I was not expecting a 4-2 loss in the third game of a playoff series, especially after the Sabres stole one of the first two games in Philadelphia, bringing home a split.
The atmosphere in and outside of HSBC Arena was great. Fans inside were excited for the first playoff game of the Terry Pegula-era and those who couldn’t get tickets battled through cold, wind and snow to show their support at the Party in the Plaza.
Unfortunately, the Sabres lost and did what the weather couldn’t – dampened the spirits of their fans.
The Sabres blew a glorious opportunity to seize control of the series. They could’ve gone up 2-1 with a chance to take a commanding 3-1 lead at home on Wednesday, but instead will be fighting to return to Philly for with the series tied.
As frustrating as that is, fans need to realize that this series is far from over. A loss Wednesday will certainly put the team in a precarious position, but being down 2-1 going into a home game is hardly a death sentence.
If you don’t count empty-net goals, each game of the series has been decided by one goal. That proves that the Sabres can stay with Philly and the Game One victory shows that they’re capable of beating them.
Buffalo gave Game Two away by committing 13 penalties and costly turnovers led to easy goals in the Game Three loss. The Sabres have handed the Flyers games and still managed to keep them close.
Winning the series won’t be quite that simple, though.
Because of the teams’ play at the end of the season, we tend to forget that Philly was one of the best teams in the league the majority of the year and that the Sabres needed a lengthy and tremendous run to sneak into the playoffs.
The Flyers went to the Stanley Cup Finals last spring and they are loaded with playoff experience with one of the deepest rosters in the NHL.
The Sabres rely on plenty of young players who don’t have as much playoff experience.
Game Four is a must-win for Buffalo. A win creates a best-of-three series while a loss puts them in a 3-1 hole. The youngsters will have to step up.
Remember this: In the history of the Sabres/Flyers playoff meetings, the winning team of Game One has never lost the series. Let’s hope history repeats itself.