Flyers’ winless streak hits 6 after 4-2 loss at Buffalo

Noah Cates

      They played well but had nothing to show for it.

      The Flyers dominated play in a game against Buffalo and still couldn’t find a way to win on Friday night.

      A 4-2 loss to the Sabres at KeyBank Arena meant the Flyers’ winless streak has hit a season-high six (0-4-2) games.

      Although the Flyers lost, they caught a break when Washington blew a 2-1 lead in the third period at Carolina and also lost, 4-2. So the Flyers at least hold onto a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference as the Islanders back into the third place in the Metropolitan Division.

      The Flyers had a big advantage in shots but Buffalo goaltender Ukko-Pecca Luukkonen was up to the task, turning aside all but two of 33 shots.

       Owen Tippett’s goal at 9:19 of the third period chipped Buffalo’s two-goal lead down to 3-2. Tippett scored on a shot from the point which went past the bodies of a couple players. But that’s where the Flyers’ offense ended.

      A back-breaking goal by Buffalo’s Jack Quinn, his first of two, with 5.1 seconds left in the second period put the Flyers in a 3-1 hole.

      The Flyers’ suffered a defensive breakdown allowing Quinn to get wide open in front for a shot past goaltender Ivan Fedotov, making his first start in the NHL.

      Flyers coach John Tortorella gave both his team and his goaltender mixed reviews.

      “I thought we played the right way,” the coach said. “That’s the way we have to play, we have to bury some of our chances. A lot of the game I’m happy about but we didn’t finish. He (Luukkonen) is a good goalie, he played well.”

      As for Fedotov, some of his inefficiency could be talked up to long stretches without shots.

      “Hard game to play because he didn’t get much action, not many chances,” Tortorella said. “I think we need another save but I also think we need to capitalize on our chances. That’s the difference in the game. I was encouraged with a lot of things with our game. If we just keep our patience, keep our wits about ourselves and play this way, we’ll find our way.”

      Noah Cates scored at 9:07 of the second period to tie the score at 1-1.

      Cates launched a shot from the right faceoff dot that found an opening on the far side past Luukkonen. Owen Tippett and Cam York picked up assists on the play.

      Now Cates has scored in each of the last two games after getting only four goals all season prior to that.

      “We need to grind it out against these teams,” he said. “They’re a dangerous team, they’ve got some really good offensive weapons. But they don’t want to play in their own zone.

      “(After two goals) Yeah, you feel a little lighter out there. When you shoot the puck, you feel like it’s going to go in every time. I’m really happy I’m helping.”

      The Sabres responded at 14:51. Rasmus Dahlin took control and connected from the slot.

      There were plenty of scoring chances for the Flyers in the first period but none of them went into the Buffalo net.

      Philadelphia was credited with 11 shots, including Grade-A chances afforded Cates and Olle Lycksell. But Luukkonen was able to get in front of everything the Flyers could shoot at him.

      The Sabres registered the only goal of the first period. Tage Thompson rushed the net and took a perfect feed from defenseman JJ Peterka and then deked around Fedotov at 10:01.

      There are only five games left on the Flyers’ schedule, so they know they have to get this slump ended in a hurry.

      They can start with a game against last-place Columbus on Saturday night.

      “That’s the best thing about playing back-to-backs, you can kind of forget about it and go out and play the next night,” he said. “Important games are fun games to play so it’s easy to get up for games like this. Looking forward to playing tomorrow.”

      >Short shots

      Sean Couturier was out of the lineup again with an upper-body injury. . .Egor Zamula was scratched and Marc Staal returned to the lineup. Also scratched was forward Nick Deslauriers. . .Garnet Hathaway recorded his 308th hit of the season, which is a Flyers’ franchise record. The old mark was 306, set by Deslauriers last season. . .Tippett reached new career high in goals, assists (23) and points (51).

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About Wayne Fish 2446 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.