Flyers Blow Another Lead; Lose To Buffalo 5-3
The Philadelphia Flyers have lost three games in a row for just the second time this season. Today's loss was especially disappointing due to the way that the team lost. It was another case of not playing a full 60 minutes and blowing a lead. Another frustrating third period also came into play. The lead in the East is slipping, and the Flyers are going to have to get things together.
Special teams play was the story of the first period. The Flyers failed to convert on their first power play of the game and also took a penalty while on the man advantage. The Flyers then took another penalty to give the Sabres a two man advantage. The 5 on 3 was killed off thanks in part to an incredible shift by Mike Richards. End to end he was fantastic. It's shifts like that that tell the true story of Mike Richards and what makes him such an incredible captain. It also makes it hard to understand why he is criticized so often.
The orange and black got their chance on the PP again in the first period and this time they finally converted. Kris Versteeg scored his third goal in two games to give the Flyers the lead. He had a yawning net to shoot at and made no mistake.
Late in the period it was James van Riemsdyk who doubled the lead. He scored an absolutely beautiful goal on the backhand. No words can do the goal justice. You just have to watch it, and once you watch you'll want to watch it again and again.
One would assume that with a 2-0 lead on home ice after one period of play that the home team would be carrying the momentum and simply keep charging and feed off of the energy in the building. That did not happen today.
The Flyers killed off a penalty early in the second period, but then everything just unraveled. Right after the penalty expired, Drew Stafford scored to break the shutout and cut the lead in half. Then shortly after, Tyler Ennis scored a bizarre goal to tie the game. No one really knew it was a goal at first, but the Sabres celebrated right away and surely it was a goal. Then it was Andrej Sekera with the third goal to give the Sabres the lead. Sergei Bobrovsky made the save, but could not control the rebound. The puck went behind the net and Sekera carried it back around to the other side and Bobrovsky could not get back into position. Carter and Coburn were scrambling in front of the net as well.
Just like that the lead was gone in a matter of minutes. Something like that happening on home ice or really anywhere is unacceptable. A 2-0 lead is often called the most dangerous lead in hockey, but to give up three unanswered goals is ugly.
But the Flyers did not just roll over and accept the fact that they let the Sabres come out and dominate them after they took a pretty nice lead themselves.
Kimmo Timonen was having a great game from the start of the first period. He hit the post with one shot and had one trickle off of Ryan Miller's glove and go wide all in the first period. Everyone knew he was looking for his 100th goal, so what better way to reach that milestone?
While killing a 4 on 3, Timonen did just that. Him and Coburn had a two on one rush thanks in part to a huge save from Sergei Bobrovsky, but Kimmo's shot went wide. Coburn gathered the rebound behind the net and tried to get it across to Mike Richards but failed to do so. But he managed to get the puck back and stop the Sabres from breaking the other way. Timonen was alone in front of the net and made no mistake and knocked the puck down with his glove and chipped it past Ryan Miller. I don't think many people would have predicted his 100th to be quite like that.
And so the Flyers had tied things back up, which is how the second period would end with the game tied at three. The Flyers had a whole third period to completely change the game around and to attempt to mimic their first period.
The dreaded third period letdown came to back to haunt the Flyers yet again. Ryan Miller was incredible. He was playing solid, but even so, there was no reason to believe that the Flyers would not solve him eventually.
That never happened. The Sabres were the ones to break the tie and make it a new game yet again. Jason Pominville beat Sergei Bobrovsky and Scott Hartnell who was right there when he scored. You could just feel the energy go out of the building.
Pominville scored in the first half of the period, so the Flyers had plenty of hope, but they were just unable to solve Miller. It was very frustrating to watch. They were getting their chances, but leaving rebounds in the slot was not helping at all. The Flyers just couldn't seem to gather lose pucks quickly and because of that the Sabres were able to get scoring chances of their own.
With the extra attacker on and the net empty the Flyers tried for some late game magic, but Nathan Gerbe put the game away with just a minute to go.
One positive thought is that the Flyers get right back to action tomorrow afternoon against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. There is no time to dwell on this loss. As bad and disappointing as it was, it's over and there's nothing that the team can do about it. But how they respond will paint the picture clearly. Urgency is going to be needed and a 60 minute effort tomorrow would be nice. The Bruins are catching up quickly, so if the Flyers want to win the East, they are going to have to tighten things up and figure out their third period struggles and inability to hold onto leads.