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Flyers-Sabres preview: 2 struggling teams finding out about youngsters

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Morgan Frost, Philadelphia Flyers
Center Morgan Frost and the Flyers will try to end a three-game losing streak Saturday in Buffalo. Photo: Zack Hill.

The Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres – two sagging teams trying to find out about some of their young players – will meet Saturday night at the KeyBank Center.

Former Sabre Rasmus Ristolainen, 27, is injured and won’t play Saturday or Sunday (at the Wells Fargo Center at 5 p.m.) against Buffalo. He has 16 points (2-14) in 66 games and is minus-9 with 230 hits, which is tied for seventh in the NHL.

The Flyers traded Robert Hagg and first- (2021) and second-round (2023) picks to Buffalo last summer for Ristolainen, who scored against his ex-team in a loss in January.

Both teams are struggling. Buffalo (27-38-11) has lost four of its last five, while the Philadelphia Flyers (23-40-11) have dropped three in a row, during which they have been outscored, 18-5.

The Flyers are coming off Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to the Rangers, a game that Philly used seven rookies.

Storylines

The Flyers will try to avenge a 6-3 loss in Buffalo on Jan. 22. It was the Flyers’ 11th straight defeat.

In that game, Peyton Krebs, Tage Thompson, and Jeff Skinner each scored twice. Krebs, a center who now has seven goals in 51 games this season, had never scored in the NHL before that game.

Keep an eye on highly touted defenseman Owen Power, 19, who will make his third NHL appearance for the Sabres. Buffalo drafted him No. 1 overall last year, and he is expected to be on the second pairing. He has an assist and a plus-1 rating for Buffalo.

Power was teammates with Flyers defenseman Cam York at the University of Michigan. York, 21, was injured Tuesday blocking a shot taken by Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and won’t play Saturday.

Flyers’ projected lineup

Line 1:  Kevin Hayes centering James van Riemsdyk and Owen Tippett.

Line 2: Scott Laughton centering Oskar Lindblom and Travis Konecny.

Line 3: Morgan Frost centering Joel Farabee and Bobby Brink.

Line 4: Nate Thompson centering Noah Cates and Oskar Lindblom.

Defense: Ivan Provorov and Egor Zamula; Travis Sanheim and Kevin Connauton; Keith Yandle and Ronnie Attard.

Goalie:  Martin Jones.

Numbers Dept.

Both teams are near the bottom of the NHL in goals scored and goals allowed. The Flyers are 30th in goals (2.55 per game) and 27th in goals allowed (3.58). Buffalo is 25th in both categories – scoring at a 2.72 clip per game and allowing 3.54.

Who’s hot?

Thompson, a 6-7, 218-pound RW, is having a breakout season. He has 33 goals overall for Buffalo, and has 11 points (six goals, five assists) in his last 10 games.

For the Flyers, James van Riemsdyk has seven goals in his last 15 games. On Tuesday, he reached the 20-goal mark for the seventh time in his career.

Projected goalie matchup­­­

Jones (3.49 GAA, .899 save percentage) is expected to face Sabres 40-year-old goaltender Craig Anderson (3.16, .897).

How to watch

NBCSP, 7 p.m.

How to bet

Money line (FanDuel)

Flyers: plus-126.

Sabres: plus-168.

Prediction

Sabres 4, Flyers 3, in OT.

Prediction record: 28-11.

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