PHILADELPHIA – The Flyers gave Buffalo every chance possible to take the lead and bounce back from a dispiriting loss. When the Sabres failed, Philadelphia buried them for it.
Buffalo’s winless streak reached four games Thursday night with an ugly 5-1 loss to the Flyers in Wells Fargo Center. The Sabres had three first-period power plays, with the final one carrying over into the second period, but the unit failed to generate anything. After killing off the last one, Philly struck for two goals in 48 seconds to start the Sabres running toward the bus.
The Sabres have won just one of their five games since the All-Star break, going 1-2-2 to drop their record to 21-28-6. They’ve been outscored, 12-5, in the past two games.
Four-goal period: The Flyers lit the goal lamp four times during the second period to turn a scoreless game into rout. R.J. Umberger got open for a tap-in with 1:23 gone to score his first of the year. Brayden Schenn made it 2-0 almost immediately.
Even when the Sabres made a good play, it didn’t work out. They broke up a rush by high-scoring defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, but the puck went to Wayne Simmonds and he easily beat Buffalo goaltender Robin Lehner. Michael Raffl scored on a breakaway with 4:03 left in the second.
McGinn scores: A long shift in the Flyers' zone midway through the third period helped Jamie McGinn increase his contract and/or trade value. The winger deposited a rebound with 9:56 left for his 12th goal of the season.
Give them five: The public-address announcer hadn't even called out McGinn's goal when the Flyers rebuilt their four-goal lead. Nick Cousins scored his first NHL goal on a slap shot between Lehner's pads just 29 seconds after Buffalo scored.
Power-play woes: Philadelphia took three penalties in a span of 5:02 late in the first, then took two more just 2:12 apart in the second. It didn’t matter. Buffalo managed just five shots on the five power plays.
Productive start: Buffalo’s Justin Bailey was on the ice for just 1:54 during the first period, but he made the most of it. Bailey took four of the Sabres’ 14 shots. He had a wraparound and two close-range rebound attempts. Through two periods, Bailey had five shots, one hit and one blocked shot in 5:01 of ice time.
No surprise: The teams skated into the first intermission tied at 0-0. It was no surprise. Buffalo (27 goals) and Philly (29) are the two lowest-scoring first-period teams in the NHL. Buffalo limited the Flyers to just six shots.
Streaking rookie: Gostisbehere received an assist on Simmonds’ goal, running his point streak to 10 games. It’s the longest by a rookie defenseman since the Colorado Rockies’ Barry Beck in 1977-78. Gostisbehere also tied the Flyers’ rookie record set by Mikael Renberg in 1993-94.
No Gudas fans: Philadelphia defenseman Radko Gudas leg-whipped Marcus Foligno just prior to Raffl's goal, with Foligno fighting Gudas as the other Flyers celebrated. With 3:33 to play, Gudas picked up a five-minute charging major for knocking Dan Catenacci out of the game. Jake McCabe fought Gudas following the hit, which was delivered to the head as Catenacci bent over looking for the puck
Reinhart in the middle again: The Sabres drafted Sam Reinhart as a center, but they’ve eased him into the NHL as a right winger. Because of various injuries, Buffalo has been forced to move the rookie back to the middle. He played in the middle of left wing Evander Kane and captain Brian Gionta. He went 1-5 on faceoffs through two periods after winning just one of seven Tuesday against Florida.
“At some point you’re thinking he’s going to have to get an opportunity to play center,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “He stepped in and played center last game and other than the faceoff circle, which he struggled with, I thought he looked pretty comfortable in that position.”
Larsson close to ready: Center Johan Larsson didn’t join the Sabres on their one-game road trip and missed his second straight game. He might return from his lower-body injury Friday when Buffalo hosts Montreal.
Forward Zemgus Girgensons (lower body) was placed on injured reserve retroactive to last weekend, so the earliest he can return is Sunday when the Sabres host Colorado.
Words from the champ: Former heavyweight boxing champ Evander Holyfield took notice of Evander Kane’s three-fight night Tuesday. Holyfield tweeted to Kane, “Nice overhand right.” Said Kane, who is named after the boxer: “It was a nice compliment from a guy who knows a thing or two about boxing.”
Neuvirth back: Former Sabres goaltender Michal Neuvirth dressed for the first time in six games after recovering from a lower-body injury. Neuvirth, who is 11-6-2 with a .933 save percentage and 2.14 goals-against average, served as Steve Mason’s backup.
Up next: The Sabres will host the Canadiens at 7 tonight in First Niagara Center. Buffalo is 4-4-1 in the second game of back-to-backs. Montreal will use Ben Scrivens in goal. He has three straight victories while allowing four goals and putting up a .959 save percentage.