The Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres, two teams that have struggled mightily for most of the last decade, had numerous youngsters in their lineups Saturday night as they hoped to start building for the future.
The Flyers built an early 2-0 lead, sleepwalked through the second period, and fell to the Sabres, 4-3, at the KeyBank Center.
It was the first time Buffalo won after facing a two-goal deficit in any game this season.
Interim coach Mike Yeo said the Flyers “tried to play an easy game” and had a lot of “poke and hope” plays. That shouldn’t happen with so many young players trying to make an impression.
Some of the youngsters got off to strong starts. Joel Farabee, Bobby Brink, and Owen Tippett made key plays as the Flyers built a 2-0 lead after 3:55, but Buffalo outscored the visitors, 4-1, and outshot them, 18-4, in the second period.
For the season, the Flyers have been outscored, 94-66 in the second, their worst period in 2021-22.
Only one more day! https://t.co/uLTXPMWsy1
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) April 17, 2022
The Flyers (23-41-11) have seven games left in their Lost Season. They host the Sabres (28-38-11) at 5 p.m. on Sunday to conclude the back-to-back series.
The Sabres scored all four second-period goals from close range, Kyle Okposo (power play), Rasmus Dahlin (on a delayed penalty), Vinnie Hinostroza (poor coverage by Nate Thompson), and Tage Thompson (power play) connected against Martin Jones in the stanza.
It was Buffalo’s second four-goal period against the Flyers this season.
“We’re just not working as a unit,” said Travis Konecny, who had a goal and played a strong game. “We’re kind of spreading out the ice and not working together. It makes everything harder — harder on the D, harder on the forwards, and then just kills our momentum. And then Jonesy has to stand on his head and try to keep us in it until we get back to doing the right things.”
The Flyers, losers of four straight, are still getting acclimated to all the new players in their lineup, Konecny said.
“You just have to try to find chemistry and get guys involved and doing the right things,” Konecny said. “I mean, it’s definitely difficult playing with new guys, but it is what it is.”
Brink said the Flyers “weren’t getting pucks past their D, getting in on the forecheck, or taking away the walls” in the second period. “We weren’t playing as fast as we were in the first period.”
Earlier, Brink, who played with relentlessness all night, made a series of dekes and put a shot on Craig Anderson, and Farabee cleaned up the rebound to put the Flyers ahead, 1-0, after just 1:41.
It was Farabee’s 17th goal, and Brink’s second point in three NHL games. The more you see Brink, the more you understand why he led all NCAA players with 43 assists for the University of Denver this season. He enters the offensive zone with purpose, and has shown a knack for creating chances in his first three games with the Flyers.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) April 16, 2022
About two minutes after Farabee’s goal, Tippett picked up a loose puck and scored by putting a high backhander past the 40-year-old Anderson for a 2-0 lead.
Brink is 20. Farabee is 22. Tippett is 23. They are three big pieces of the Flyers’ future.
Konecny (14th goal) went around defenseman Mattias Sameulsson and scored on the short side to give the Flyers a brief 3-2 lead in the Sabres-controlled second period. Noah Cates, who has three points in nine NHL games, collected his first career assist on the play.
But the Sabres quickly answered. Twice.
Buffalo hasn’t made the playoffs during the last 11 seasons, a dubious NHL record.
The Philadelphia Flyers have missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons and have won just one playoff series in the last 10 seasons. General Manager Chuck Fletcher, assuming he is back, has a lot of work to do this summer.
On the power play, Buffalo was 2 for 4 while Philly was 0 for 4. … Buffalo recorded its third straight home win over the Flyers for the first time since 2006-07. … The Flyers have the NHL’s fourth-worst record. … Goalie Felix Sandstrom is scheduled to start Sunday’s game against the Sabres. … Konecny’s goal was just his second in the last 10 games. … Rookie Egor Zamula played his first NHL game on the top pairing, alongside fellow-Russian Ivan Provorov. Zamula blocked four shots and was minus-1 in 17:41. … Buffalo is 2-0 against the Flyers this season, scoring a total of 10 goals in those games.