It appeared the winless streak was going to end. Jack Eichel scored twice in the first period, the Philadelphia Flyers were reeling again and Linus Ullmark was sharp in goal.
Then, the Buffalo Sabres' sloppy play finally caught up to them. Their winless streak stretched to five Saturday with a 6-2 loss to the Flyers at KeyBank Center. The Flyers, 12-12-3 with 27 points, scored six unanswered goals, including four in the third period, and began the day tied for last in the Metropolitan Division.
They took the lead on Claude Giroux's shorthanded goal to beat Ullmark 2:49 into the third period. Wayne Simmonds, Dale Weise and Travis Konecny added insurance goals.
The Sabres, 17-9-4 with 38 points, are 0-3-2 over their last five games and this was their first time losing by more than two goals since a 5-1 loss at San Jose on Oct. 18. Jack Eichel scored twice — his eighth and ninth of the season — in the first period to give Buffalo a two-goal lead and now has four over his last two games.
Ullmark, starting in goal with Carter Hutton out because of a lower-body injury, made 35 saves and helped keep the score tied 2-2 after two periods, despite the Sabres being outplayed in the second. However, the Flyers broke through with Giroux's goal and scored three more in a span of 2:50.
The Sabres were outshot, 40-30, and have not won since a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks at KeyBank Center on Nov. 27.
Not-so-power-play: Phil Housley finally got to roll out his new-look power-play units in the third period when Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim was called for holding at 1:25 into the third. The Sabres had only one goal in their previous 13 power plays.
They only regressed.
Sam Reinhart's turnover in the offensive zone led to a 3-on-1 odd-man rush, and Giroux beat Ullmark for a shorthanded, go-ahead goal. It was the fourth shorthanded goal Buffalo's allowed this season.
12-1-3: This was the Sabres' first loss of the season when scoring first. They were previously 12-0-3, joining Toronto as the only two teams with at least one point in every game in which they've scored first.
Opening salvo: Eichel collected a pass from Reinhart, rushed up the right side and beat Flyers goalie Anthony Stolarz with a wrist shot to the far post at 4:04 into the first period for a 1-0 lead.
Streak extended: Reinhart, who had a goal and an assist Tuesday against Toronto, extended his point streak to a career-best six consecutive games. He has five goals and four assists in that span.
The encore: Defenseman Lawrence Pilut, playing in his fourth consecutive game, recorded his first NHL point by assisting on Eichel's second goal of the game 12:02 into the first for a 2-0 advantage. Pilut found an open lane, fired a shot from the left point directed near Eichel, who tipped the puck into the net.
Flyers answer: The Sabres were terrible in the faceoff circle in the first period, losing 15 of 18 draws. That included eight by Giroux, one of which went to winger James van Riemsdyk, whose wrist shot from the right hash mark beat Ullmark glove side at 12:52 to cut the deficit to one. Still, the Sabres outscored the Flyers, 6-1, in the first period of their two matchups this season.
Another milestone: This was Kyle Okposo's 700th career NHL game, 171 of which have been with the Sabres.
Drawing even: The Flyers tied the score, 2-2, when defenseman Ivan Provorov's shot high in the left circle got by Ullmark 10:10 in the second period. Buffalo was outshot, 14-9, and gave Philadelphia too much room in the defensive zone.
The Sabres needed Ullmark to play his best — his glove save on Jakub Voracek helped keep the score tied through two periods — but it wasn't enough.
Injury updates: Defensemen Jake McCabe (upper body), Marco Scandella (upper body) and Casey Nelson (upper body) were unavailable to play against Philadelphia. Matt Tennyson, recalled Friday from Rochester, played his first NHL game of the season. Carter Hutton remains day to day with what Housley called a "hockey-related" injury. Scott Wedgewood served as Ullmark's backup. Flyers center Sean Couturier also missed the game because of a lower-body injury.
Next: The Sabres return to practice Sunday morning at HarborCenter and host the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday at 7 p.m. in KeyBank Center.