PHILADELPHIA — The four-point streak for the Buffalo Sabres came to an end Thursday night in a 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Wells Fargo Center.
While the Sabres played a strong first period, the Flyers came with more punch in the second, hemming the Sabres in their own zone several times and wearing down the defense to break a 1-1 tie late in the period.
It was the fifth-straight win for the Flyers.
Getting the early jump: The Sabres got on the board just 1:29 into the game. Zemgus Girgensons went behind the net as Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott played the puck. Girgensons got control, skated around the net and flipped it to Ryan O'Reilly, who was alone in front of an empty net for his eighth goal of the season.
Flyers respond: Philadelphia tied the game as defenseman Travis Sanheim scored his first NHL goal at 4:20 of the first. Sanheim was a first-round pick of the Flyers in 2014. The 21-year-old is in his first season in the NHL after playing in 76 games (10 goals, 27 assists) for the AHL Phantoms last season.
Strong first period: The Sabres carried much of the pace of play in the opening 20 minutes. They worked their forecheck, got to loose pucks, and threw the puck toward the net. While the shots were tied, 7-7, the Sabres held the advantage at even strength. Four of the Flyers' seven shots came on the only power play of the first period. Goaltender Robin Lehner was again the strongest penalty killer for the Sabres.
The PK continued strong play: The Sabres had to kill off another penalty early in the second period. Again, Lehner turned away some point-blank opportunities. Evander Kane ended the penalty with a shorthanded scoring chance.
Flyers break through: As strong as the Sabres were in the first, the Flyers counterpunched in the second. Lehner had been bailing the Sabres defense out for much of the period as the Flyers held a 14-6 advantage in shots. As Philadelphia built momentum through the second, they broke through with 2:33 left. Valtteri Filppula went to the slot, untouched, and tapped home a pass from Jakub Voracek for the 2-1 lead.
Third period chances: Evander Kane saw his five-game point streak end but had several good scoring chances. With 15:13 left in the third period, he was alone at the right side of the net and took a pass from Evan Rodrigues. Kane couldn't connect as Elliott came up with a big save.
Scratches: As expected, the Sabres healthy scratches were forward Hudson Fasching and defenseman Victor Antipin. Defenseman Nathan Beaulieu was scratched again as he recovers from an illness. Philadelphia scratched center Jori Lehtera and defenseman Mark Alt.
Up next: The Sabres get back at it Friday night, returning to Buffalo to host the Carolina Hurricanes at 7 p.m. Friday. It kicks off three straight home games before the Christmas break. The Sabres host Boston at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday then welcome the Flyers to the 716 on Dec. 22. Buffalo then plays at Carolina on Dec. 23 to close out the pre-holiday schedule.
The NHL is dark Dec. 24-26 with no games, practices, or team activities. Rosters are frozen for the holiday break on Dec. 19.