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Flyers Fail on PK, Lose to Sabres

BUFFALO, N.Y.—Questionable officiating, numerous penalties and bad penalty killing all contributed to the Flyers' 5-2 loss at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.

In the first few minutes, the two teams continued the feeling out process. Both teams tried to assert themselves physically, including several bouts of 4-on-4 hockey.

Midway through the first period, Nicklas Grossmann waved his stick on the ice, tripping down Cody Hodgson and sending Buffalo to the power play. The Flyers collapsed into a box after Buffalo whipped the puck around the zone, forcing all four Flyer penalty killers to puck watch and stay in front of their net. 

From the corner, Jason Pominville threaded the needle to the high slot where Steve Ott blasted a one-timer into the net past Ilya Bryzgalov to give Buffalo the 1-0 lead.

Just minutes later, the Flyers had their own grand scoring opportunity. Luke Schenn bombed a puck from the point, and as the puck bounced around in the paint, Ruslan Fedotenko dug for the puck out of the scrum and scored. However, in the process, he barely nudged goaltender Ryan Miller as he was already moving backwards, forcing lead official Steve Kozari to wave the goal off.

Miller continued to shut the door on the Flyers' power play opportunities at the end of the period, keeping his team ahead at the break.
 
That lead didn't last long. The Flyers continued to be physical and earn more offensive zone time. First, Kurtis Foster slammed a puck from the point, and Sean Couturier applied the deft tip off to the side of the net to tie the game.
 
Then after Robin Regehr tripped Kimmo Timonen, the Flyers headed to the power play. Timonen fed Claude Giroux for a top of the circle one-timer that whizzed past Ryan Miller's shoulder and into the net to give the Flyers the 2-1 lead. It was the first power play goal scored by Philadelphia this year.

The Flyers couldn't stay out of the box throughout the second stanza, leading to a 5-on-3 power play for the Sabres. The PK unit killed the first penalty off, but during the second penalty, both Max Talbot and Couturier raced for the line change. That proved to be a fatal mistake. Thomas Vanek cruised through to the net and put on the shimmy shake on Bryzgalov to score and tie the game at two.

"Bryz" held the fort, stopping the final five shots that the Sabres shoveled at him.

Chaos reigned in the third. Furious end-to-end action featured both goaltenders making fabulous save after save. That is, until the Flyers continued their parade to the penalty box.

Luke Schenn was flagged for a tripping call after a partial break by Marcus Foligno in the third. On the ensuing power play, Tyler Myers wristed one through traffic off of Kimmo Timonen's skate to take the lead. The penalty kill only killed 3 of 6 power plays.

Not more than two minutes later, Thomas Vanek rushed forward on a breakaway and Bryzgalov made a huge blocker save. The puck flopped in the blue paint on the rebound, and as Jakub Voracek overskated, Cody Hodgson redirected the puck with his skate into the net. The goal was reviewed, and it stood, giving Buffalo the 4-2 lead.

Laviolette decided to pull Bryzgalov with 1:29 to go. The Flyers scrummed for the the loose puck with a minute to go at the front of the net, and the puck trickled across the goal line after Simmonds got a stick on it. However, referee Don van Massenhoven waved the goal off even though the puck was clearly loose.

To say the least, the Twitterverse exploded with criticism of the questionable officiating.

Thomas Vanek applied the finishing touches, scoring into the empty net making it 5-2.

Now the Flyers must face the Devils, Rangers, Lightning and Panthers in the coming days on a two-game losing streak. It's not going to be any easier for them as the 48 game schedule rolls along.