Second period meltdowns have been a sore point for the Flyers all season but Saturday night’s middle frame at Buffalo was one for the Hall of Shame.
The Flyers took a 2-0 first period lead, then went completely in the tank by surrendering four goals in the second, leading to a 4-3 loss at KeyBank Arena.
For the Flyers’ 2021-22 season they have given up a whopping 94 goals.
Philadelphia actually held a 3-2 lead late in the second period but then gave up two more quick goals as the Flyers dropped their fourth straight match.
Buffalo scored twice on the power play and also notched a third goal during a delayed penalty call against the Flyers.
Travis Konecny put the Flyers in front with a goal off the rush at 14:06 of the second period.
But the Sabres quickly responded, getting goals from Vinnie Hinostraza (15:36) and Tage Thompson (on a power play) at 17:58.
Why couldn’t the Flyers sustain the proactive attack they generated in the first period when the second period rolled around?
Rookie Bobby Brink had a good explanation.
“I think we just weren’t getting pucks past their D,’’ Brink said. “Getting in on the forecheck and taking away the walls. I don’t think we were quite as fast as we were in the first period. There was a bit of a momentum swing there in their favor.’’
Konecny knows the Flyers are making too many mistakes.
“A combination of things,’’ Konecny said. “We’re spreading out the ice and not working together. That just kind of makes it harder on the defense. (Martin) Jones (goaltender) had to stand on his head to keep us in it. It’s up to us to fix it, straighten out the mistakes and get back on track.’’
Interim head coach Mike Yeo watched his team lose for the ninth time in the past 11 games. There are only seven games left in this terrible season and no doubt everyone has his own countdown.
“You saw the execution, the missed passes,’’ he said. “The decision making at different times. I thought we tried to play an easy game against a team that has a lot of skill in their lineup. Their power play was a big factor tonight.’’
Yeo said it was up to his veteran players to keep things on an even keel after the promising first period. It didn’t quite work out that way.
“You have to go out (after the first period) and do the right thing and you count on your leaders to do that,’’ he said. “You’re never going to control momentum all the way through the game. But if you start to feel it slip. . .you hear guys talking on the bench, now it’s your turn to go out there and set it right.’’
Kyle Okposo started Buffalo’s comeback for Buffalo at 3:17. With Ivan Provorov in the penalty box, Okposo notched his 20th goal of the season with a high shot which eluded Jones.
The Flyers were about to be going on another penalty kill when Buffalo tied it at 8:27. James van Riemsdyk had his stick entangled with a Sabre and during the delay whistle, the Sabres picked up a goal from Rasmus Dahlin.
The Flyers took a 2-0 lead on goals by Joel Farabee and Owen Tippett before the game was four minutes old.
Brink deserved most of the credit on the Farabee goal, charging hard to the net and crashing past goalie Craig Anderson. Farabee followed up with a chip shot into the net at 1:41. That ended Farabee’s nine-game point drought.
This was Brink’s third game and it was another promising performance.
“The older guys have helped a lot,’’ he said. “It’s a really good group of veteran guys. They’ve showed us the ropes a bit, showed the proper way to play in this league.’’
Another hard rush to the net resulted in the Flyers’ second goal. Kevin Hayes and Travis Sanheim led the push into the Sabres’ zone and Tippett found a way to push a backhand shot beyond Anderson’s reach at 3:55.
Yeo moved some personnel around for the start of Saturday night’s game.
Kevin Hayes centered a line with van Riemsdyk and Tippett; Scott Laughton played the pivot for Oskar Lindblom and Konecny; Morgan Frost had Farabee and Brink on his wings and Nate Thompson took over the middle for Zack MacEwen and Noah Cates.
On defense, rookie Egor Zamula was paired for the first time with Provorov; Sanheim worked with Kevin Connauton and Keith Yandle formed a tandem with rookie Ronnie Attard.
The Flyers complete the back-to-back, home-and-home set back in Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon (5 p.m.). . .Flyers equipment manager Harry Bricker participated in NHL game No. 2,500.