PHILADELPHIA – Maybe the ease with which the Flyers scored 11 goals in two games against Pittsburgh came back to bite them on Monday night.
There was none of that swagger when the underrated Buffalo Sabres dropped by the Wells Fargo Center.
After taking two comfortable wins over the Penguins last week, the Flyers returned to earth with a thud, dropping a 6-1 verdict.
About the only positive thing to take away from this one was there were no fans in the stands to voice their displeasure.
Sam Reinhart and Curtis Lazar led the Buffalo attack, each scoring a pair of goals, while goaltender Carter Hutton recorded the win. His shutout bid was broken by a Nicolas Aube-Kubel goal with 2:05 left in the game.
The “other’’ Carter, namely Hart, surrendered four of the six Buffalo goals and left in favor of Brian Elliott at 8:09 of the second period.
The loss leaves the Flyers with a 2-1 mark, with a rematch against the Sabres coming up on Tuesday night at WFC.
Coach Alain Vigneault wore a frown through much of his post-game conference call.
Clearly, he wasn’t pleased with his team’s overall play.
“I think if I’m a player, I’m embarrassed by how we played tonight,’’ he said. “I’m happy we can right back at it tomorrow (same place, same opponent) and prove what kind of team we are. I expect a much better game from us, better execution, much harder to play against and I’m confident that’s what we’re going to see tomorrow.’’
Vigneault was reluctant to put the blame for Monday’s debacle on possible overconfidence coming off the Penguin sweep.
“I don’t believe the Penguins game(s) had anything to do with this,’’ Vigneault contended. “We made it very clear with our team that we needed to play better than we did (against Pittsburgh). We obviously didn’t do that tonight.
“I believe Buffalo should get a lot of credit. They played a strong game, made a lot of the right plays and they made us look very bad on the ice. Without a doubt, they were very good and we weren’t.’’
Vigneault acknowledged the Flyers’ decision-making with the puck was not up to par.
“When it’s not good enough, it feeds the other team’s transition,’’ he said. “They come at you and they come at you hard.
“We need to be better with the puck. If we are, we’ll spend less time in our zone, we’ll get through the neutral zone and we’ll be able to do a better job in the offensive zone.’’
James van Riemsdyk said the Flyers weren’t playing their regular brand of hockey.
“I think we all know we haven’t played our best this season,’’ JVR said. “We were able to find ways to win the first two games. Tonight, it’s going to catch up with you eventually.
“Hopefully, we know we have a lot more to give and play. We have to get back to playing the way we can. We need to do a better job supporting each other over the ice. On the forecheck, everyone doing their job. It felt tonight like we were too stretched out.’’
Added Hart: “I need to be better. It wasn’t out best game. We just got outworked. We have to put it behind us.’’
Lazar scored unassisted at 15:52 of the first. He managed to circle past Philippe Myers and backhanded a shot under the crossbar and into the net.
Things went quickly downhill after that.
Reinhart scored his two goals less than five minutes apart in the middle frame. On the first, with the Flyers a man short due to a Hart tripping penalty, Reinhart finished off a Taylor Hall entry which appeared to nick off Hart and right to Reinhart for the easy shot at 3:35.
At 8:28, Jack Eichel pushed a puck through defenseman Travis Sanheim’s skates and over to Reinhart, who had Hart at his mercy.
Lazar ended Hart’s night with another close-range shot at 8:09. Henri Jokiharju made it 5-0 in the third when his long shot appeared to deflect off Flyer defenseman Erik Gustafsson and past Elliott. After the Flyers scored, the Sabres scored at 18:49.
Morgan Frost filled in for the injured Sean Couturier and said it took a little while to get back in the flow.
“It was fun to get back out there and play,’’ said Frost, who hadn’t played in 10 months. “I had to make sure I was working hard for this opportunity.’’
>Ironmen still streaking
With their appearances in Monday night’s game, Ivan Provorov and Claude Giroux passed John LeClair for the second-longest consecutive game streaks in team history at 317.
The three players sit behind only Rod Brind’Amour’s franchise record 484 games. Provorov’s streak is already a franchise record for longest streak from the start of a career.