Following the most disheartening loss on their dismal season, the Buffalo Sabres won’t have to wait long for a shot at redemption against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Looking to prevent their franchise-record winless streak from reaching 19 games, the Sabres also aim to avoid a sixth consecutive defeat to the visiting Flyers on Wednesday night.
Leading 3-0 after two periods Monday night, Buffalo seemed headed to its first victory since Feb. 23. Instead, Kevin Hayes, captain Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier scored third-period goals, and defenseman Ivan Provorov came through 42 seconds into overtime, as Philadelphia completed a stunning 4-3 comeback victory.
While the Flyers have won back-to-back contests for the first time since a three-game run from Feb. 24-28, the Sabres are mired in an 0-15-3 rut. That’s NHL’s longest such slide during the shootout era. The 1993-94 Winnipeg Jets were the most recent club to go 19 in a row without a win.
“Not really any words, to be honest,” said Buffalo defenseman Brandon Montour, who has a goal with four assists in the last seven games.
“I know this whole stretch is embarrassing, but especially (Monday night), any team in the NHL, I don’t care who you are, that’s a win. … Guys are trying to keep each other positive and bump each other up. Our focus is, you have one good shift, you want to follow it up for that next line. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
The two-day turnaround gives Buffalo a quick chance to get back at it, and also try to end an 0-9-2 home stretch. That’s one loss shy of matching the club-record winless rut set in 1990-91. The Sabres are 0-3-2 against the Flyers since winning 6-1 at Philadelphia in the season’s first meeting Jan. 18.
Couturier has four goals and three assists in the last four games, and three with four assists in four against the Sabres this season. Teammate Brian Elliott, who stopped 29 shots Monday, has a 1.40 goals-against average while going 4-0-0 versus Buffalo in 2020-21.
With Carter Hart struggling to find his form, either Elliott or Alex Lyon could be in net Wednesday. Lyon is 1-1-0 with a 3.50 goals-against average as a starter this season.
Regardless of whom mans the Flyers net, Philadelphia collectively hopes for a better start. And, not to rely on late-game dramatics that’s concerning for a club trying to move into playoff position in the East Division.
“I don’t think we took (the Sabres) lightly,” said Giroux, who has five goals and four assists in his last seven road games.
“It’s very frustrating right now. We need to figure it out. We need to get together as a group and get our things in order here because (there are) not a lot of games left.”
Buffalo’s Linus Ullmark made 32 saves Monday, but has allowed seven goals in two games since missing more than a month with a lower-body injury. Backup Carter Hutton is day-to-day with a lower-body injury while Dustin Tokarski has a 4.05 GAA in two starts for the Sabres this season.
Teammate Kyle Okposo had one point through his first 18 games this season, but two goals with four assists in his last eight.
–Field Level Media