Sabres: 4, Flyers: 2 post-game: Elliott shines, but offense proves dull

Updated: December 22, 2017 at 11:29 pm by Matt Brauckmann

Philadelphia Flyers 2 (15-13-7), Buffalo Sabres 4 (9-19-7)

It was a game that had all the looks of being an easy win for a Flyer team that has been hot of late. Instead, it turned into a game with poor special teams, missed opportunities and a missed two points against one of the NHL’s worst teams.

1ST PERIOD

The first period of this game was very uneventful for the Flyers offense.

The Flyers faced some adversity early on in this game. Robert Hagg was nabbed for tripping Evander Kane on a breakaway. Brian Elliott came up huge and stopped Kane’s attempt to keep the game scoreless.

Elliott wasn’t done there. A few minutes later, Jack Eichel found himself breaking in alone, Elliott stood tall and got the pad out to keep the game scoreless again.

Other than those two saves, the first stanza ended scoreless. The Flyers were lucky to have escaped the first period without letting anything into the cage. They were outshot 16-11 and Brian Elliott continued his string of magnificent play and kept the team in it.

2ND PERIOD

The second period started in largely the same way that the first period ended. The Flyers found themselves failing to generate offense while the Sabres were getting plenty of chances. Once again, it was Brian Elliott stealing the show early in the second period.

That save looked as if it could have been a turning point for the Flyers. Just minutes later, Claude Giroux drew a penalty on Evander Kane to get the Flyers their first power play of the game. In what has become an alarming trend, the Flyers really failed to generate any sustained offense on that power play and quickly found the two minutes gone without a goal.

That power play also didn’t seem to change any momentum. After that was over, the Flyers went right back to scrambling in their own zone. Brian Elliott once again came up with an outstanding string of saves to keep the Flyers in the game against one of the NHL’s worst teams.

After that string of saves, the Flyers once again found themselves on a power play that did them more bad than good. They once again failed to generate chances and found themselves 0-2 on the man advantage.

Despite having those two power plays, the Flyers were once again outshot in the second period, 12-10.

3RD PERIOD

The chances in this game finally caught up to the Flyers. Just four minutes in, Ryan O’Reilly put the Sabres on the board with a lackluster bank shot that snuck by Elliott.

The Flyers were once again presented with a chance to knot things up on another power play. That chance was amplified when with 40 seconds left on the first penalty, Jake McCabe fired the puck out of play to give the Flyers a 40 second 5-on-3. The Flyers lost the ensuing faceoff and most of us knew how this power play was going to go. The Flyers generated very few chances and once again let another power play go by the wayside.

The failure of the power play came back to bite the Flyers once again. Just a few minutes after that ended, Evander Kane beat Elliott with a tip-in in front of the net.

The Flyers found themselves down 2-0 and didn’t really generate any chances for the next few minutes until Ristolainen was penalized for closing his hand on the puck with 4 minutes left in the game.

Elliott headed to the bench and the Flyers went to work. Michael Raffl tipped one home with about 2 minutes remaining and it seemed like the Flyers had life.

That goal was great, but then Jack Eichel found the empty net just a few seconds later.

Just a few seconds after that, Shayne Gostisbehere once again got the Flyers to within a goal. That lead was also short lived, as Jack Eichel once again found the empty net and sealed the game for the Sabres.

It was a game the Flyers entirely didn’t deserve to win and was for the most part out of reach. Frustrating and lackluster to say the least.

QUICK HITTERS

  • The Flyers power play really killed them in this game. Although they were able to put one in late, their inability to score on power plays early led to shifts in momentum in which the Sabres were able to capitalize. They have been better as of late, operating at 25% over the last 5 games, but you have to capitalize on opportunities against bad teams. The Flyers failed to do that tonight. This was a case of too little too late for the Flyers.
  • Brian Elliott let in a very stoppable puck for the first goal, and by no means is he responsible for this loss, but Dave Hakstol has to seriously consider giving him a rest at this point. Elliott has started 10 straight games and has been the reason the Flyers have won or at least been in most of those games. It’s hard not to wonder if all this play is wearing on the 32 year-old netminder. If there was any game to give Alex Lyon a shot, it would have been this game considering the Sabres are one of the most offensively challenged teams in the NHL. Instead, Hakstol has to decide whether to play the hot hand against one of the best teams in the NHL or give the young guy a shot to prove himself. Not a good situation to be in.
  • Travis Konecny once again found ice time stifled by the coach. Despite looking like one of the best players on the ice tonight, he saw just 11:04 of ice time. That’s a tough pill to swallow considering Valteri Filppula saw almost 18 minutes of ice time and has been virtually non-existent in the past few games. Given the offensive upside Konecny brings to the table, it might be time to bump him up to that second line. He’s more than deserving of it, and it might help Wayne Simmonds kickstart his game.

NEXT GAME

Flyers at Columbus Blue Jackets

Saturday, 12/23 @ 7 P.M.

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