On a night where former defenseman Eric Desjardins was honored with his name risen to the rafters after an induction into the Flyers Hall of Fame, the actual team saw their playoff chances go the opposite way.
The Flyers were defeated by the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in a shootout as it appeared the orange and black’s playoff hopes might have just had its final heartbeat. Despite capturing at least a point in 10 of its 11 games now, not securing two points against arguably one of the worst teams in recent years is a devastating result.
Buffalo opened up the scoring quickly in the first period as Nicolas Deslauriers was able to beat Ray Emery after the Flyers’ defense was caught puck watching. The Flyers soon equalized as Ryan White was able to capitalize on a self-made opportunity. White skated uncovered into perfect position and one-timed home an errant Braydon Coburn shot that bounced right back off the boards for his first ever goal in the orange and black.
The first period left much to be desired on both ends of the ice as both teams looked very sloppy and struggled to handle the puck cleanly, let alone skate with it as the combined for a meager 12 shots.
Another sloppy start to the second cost the Flyers immediately as Emery badly misplayed a shot by Brian Gionta as the Sabres took the lead just 38 seconds in.
Finally, the Flyers were given a much-needed jolt to their offense when they went on their first power play of the game. A minute later, the game was again tied as Jakub Voracek broke an 11-game goalless streak to make 2-2. The Flyers would get two more man-advantage chances in the period but could not muster the go-ahead goal.
Both teams would trade chances and power plays in the third period but to no avail for each. With just more than five minutes remaining in regulation, Flyers’ fans appeared set for heartbreak as Zemgus Girgensons looked like he gave Buffalo the lead after a scrum in front of Emery. However, the call was quickly overturned as the Latvian clearly swatted the puck in with his glove.
Nice try though.
Recently extended and not traded defenseman Nick Schultz nearly cost the Flyers the game after taking a brutal tripping call in the last minute of the period but the Sabres were unable to convert as the game continued into overtime.
Unlike the game’s first 60 minutes, the extra session was quite exciting and filled with back-and-forth action with only a handful of whistles. Both Emery and Buffalo goalie Michal Neuvirth made several big saves and the game unfortunately required a shootout to determine a winner.
After Voracek and Gionta traded goals in the first round, each team’s skater were thwarted in successive rounds. After a feeble attempt from Sean Couturier in the fourth round, the Sabres Brian Flynn was able to fire one past Emery to secure the win for Buffalo.
The Sabres are by far the worst possession team in the league (and ever) and it comes to no surprise that even a team like the Flyers who have had possession issues of their own would dominate the shot-attempt game. The Flyers out-attempted the Sabres 53-35 at 5v5, good for a 66 percent clip. Every line and pairing were plus-possession except for the shutdown line of Couturier, Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds.
With the Bruins on a five game losing streak and seeing what was once a double-digit lead down to six, the Flyers will only have themselves to blame when they look back on the points they left on the board in the past two weeks. OT/SO losses to the Islanders, Canadiens, Blue Jackets and now Sabres cost the team at least 4 points. Although there is 20-plus games left, the Flyers window might have been slammed shut.
Mason and Timonen
Great news from the injury front as both players are reportedly within 7-10 days of possibly playing. Timonen has finally returned to practice after missing all of the season thus far due to blood clots in his legs. Mason had both knees scoped and feels he could be back sooner than later. Both players returns would only be positives for the team and if the playoffs are out of the question, a possible showcase for Timonen with the trade deadline approaching.
Eric Desjardins was always appreciated but never truly celebrated as one of the top Flyers’ defenders in the franchise. In ten years with the team, Desjardins racked up more than 700 games wearing the orange and black and helped lead the team to a Cup Final and two Conference Final appearances. Although his tenure as a captain was somewhat unfulfilling, Rico was always a massive presence both on and off the ice.