The Flyers lost the challenge by an inch and then they lost the game by a mile.
With Philadelphia holding a 2-1 lead in the first period of Saturday afternoon’s game at Buffalo, the Sabres scored a power-play goal by Tage Thompson at 15:33 to even the count.
Flyers coach Mike Yeo wasn’t buying it, however, and asked for a review of a possible offside violation.
After watching replays, officials allowed the goal to stand, which meant the Flyers would receive a two-minute minor penalty.
On the ensuing power play, Thompson scored again just 24 seconds later to make it 3-2 and the Sabres went on to a 6-3 win at KeyBank Center, extending the Flyers’ winless streak to 11 games (0-9-2).
The offside play caused a bit of controversy because a freeze-frame image of the action showed the skate of the Sabres’ Peyton Krebs was just over the blue line before the puck entered the Flyers’ zone.
In the first intermission, the NHL issued a statement explaining there wasn’t conclusive evidence to overturn the initial call:
“After video review, there was not enough conclusive evidence to determine whether Peyton Krebs’ skate was completely across the blue line before the puck entered the Philadelphia zone. Therefore, the original on-ice call stands – goal Buffalo.’’
Giroux believes the decision against the Flyers caused the team to lose “momentum.’’ It certainly looked that way after the Sabres scored five unanswered goals.
“When something bad happens, it’s really bad,’’ Giroux said. “I feel like when it was 2-1 we were playing well and then that power-play goal where we challenged them, it could have went one way or the other. From the bench, to me it looked like he (Krebs) was offside. It kind of killed our momentum a bit.’’
Otherwise, the Flyers gave another uninspired effort in remaining winless for 2022. Ex-Sabre Rasmus Ristolainen scored against his former team and that, along with a pair of goals by Giroux, were the only real highlights for Philadelphia, which trailed 4-2 after one period.
Starting goaltender Martin Jones surrendered all four of those goals and was replaced by Carter Hart.
Scott Laughton had his head down a bit as he answered questions in the post-game media room and for good reason. This effort wasn’t even close to good enough.
“You lose 10 in a row and you come into Buffalo and you lay a goose egg,’’ Laughton said. “It’s embarrassing. It’s tough right now, we need to find a way. The only guys who are going to get us out of it are the players. We have to get ourselves out of this – it’s not acceptable at this level.’’
The Flyers have to do something to shore up their penalty killing. They allowed three power-play goals to the lowly Sabres, who haven’t made the playoffs for 10 straight seasons.
“It’s the PK,’’ Laughton said, “and it goes from there.’’
Added Giroux: “We’re all in this together and right now it feels like we’ve hit rock bottom. We can’t seem to catch a break.’’
After the first of two goals by Jeff Skinner just 1:29 into the match, the Flyers rallied for their brief lead. First, Ristolainen found room to close in from the point and sent a shot through goalie Michael Houser’s pads at 11:18. Then, at 12:44, Giroux found the range off an assist from Ivan Provorov.
The first Thompson goal was a blast from the left circle. On the second, he dodged a Ristolainen check.
Krebs scored his first NHL goal with two minutes to play in the period and that was all for Jones. But Krebs wasn’t finished. In the second period, Krebs jumped out of the penalty box and took off on a breakaway, beating Hart from in close at 2:24.
Skinner connected again at 4:36 of the third period on the power play. Giroux scored his second goal on a power play late in the game.
Interim coach Mike Yeo sounds like he’s past the point of exasperation.
“We certainly didn’t have the battle level that we need,’’ he said. “The focus as far as defending. We weren’t ready to go and that falls on me. For whatever reason we weren’t ready to play the game the correct way. Disappointing.’’
Ristolainen questioned the Flyers’ work ethic for this tilt.
“I think we got outworked from the first shift of the game,’’ he said. “That can’t happen. I thought that was the difference of the game. I think there was energy and I was hoping we could energy from there. Our penalty kill didn’t do the job.’’
Asked about the details of the Sabres’ fourth goal, Ristolainen shrugged his shoulders. “Too many goals,’’ he said, “I can’t remember.’’
It was that kind of game and the 13-20-8 Flyers shuffled out of Buffalo with another humiliating loss.
>Closing in on winless mark
The Flyers’ current winless mark is just one short of the team record, 12, set in the 1998-99 season. That team went 0-8-4 between Feb. 24 and March 16, 1999.
>Yandle nears record
Defenseman Keith Yandle played in his 963rd consecutive game and can tie the NHL ironman record held by Doug Jarvis in Monday night’s game vs. the Dallas Stars in Philadelphia. . .Wade Allison, just called up from the Phantoms, made his season debut but did not finish the game. He suffered a lower-body injury in the second period and did not return to action. . .Buffalo scored six goals for the first time this season.