Devastating. Inexcusable. Brutal.
The Sabres blew a 3-0 third period lead, only to lose 4-3 in a shootout to the Flyers Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Jakub Voracek, went from being knocked out of the game by a Dmitry Kulikov hit to knocking out the Sabres in the shootout.
The Sabres were coming off five days without a game. Yet it was the Flyers, who were playing their second straight night and third game in four nights, who showed they had the energy to bring down Buffalo with a dominating third period.
“It’s kind of embarassing, we have to find a way to get out of that. It’s all of us. We have to be disciplined. They didn’t beat us, we did it to ourselves, we know we have to be much better, we have to take a hard look at ourselves.” – Ryan O’Reilly
The loss erased an impressive two goal night by Matt Moulson and a strong game by netminder Anders Nilsson. With Robin Lehner sick in Buffalo, Nilsson got his first start in goal for the Sabres. He looked calm and cool, making some big saves throughout the game.
The Sabres did all their damage in the second period, getting on the board first a little over two minutes in. After working a turnover down low, Zemgus Girgensons threw the puck toward the net. Tyler Ennis re-directed it passed Neuvirth just inside the right post for his first goal since October 27, 2015 and a 1-0 Sabres lead.
Matt Moulson pushed the Sabres’ lead to 2-0 just 1:50 later, scoring his third goal of the year. Just :06 into a Giroux penalty for boarding, he followed a lost faceoff, gained control of the puck, took it to the front of the net and flipped a backhand past a screened Neuvirth. It was a fantastic individual effort by the determined winger who is having a bounceback season.
The Sabres pushed their lead to 3-0 with another power play goal by Moulson, his team-leading fourth. Rasmus Ristolainen picked up a loose puck along the boards and sent it in front to Moulson who swatted it short side past Neuvirth. It was a tough goal to let in and sent the former Sabre to the bench for Steve Mason. Afterward, Moulson was seen grinning ear-to-ear on the bench, something he never really got a chance to do last season.
With a 3-0 lead and the game seemingly under control, the Sabres failed to deliver the knockout punch and took a series of undisciplined penalties. The third period was all Philadelphia as they found their legs and their offense, outshooting Buffalo 19-5.
Travis Konecny cut the Sabres lead to 3-1 scoring his first NHL goal. The 19-year-old redirected a blast from the point by Ivan Provorov, sending the puck short side, top shelf past Nilsson. Brayden Schenn and Mark Streit scored two late third period power play goals to tie it up, stunning the Sabres.
In the shootout, both Ryan O’Reilly and Kyle Okposo failed to convert. Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek scored for Philadelphia.
Once again, the Sabres left a point on the table. As Coach Bylsma said, “Each team has to learn how to win, we are still in that process with our group, we have to learn how to close games out.”
They’ll need to learn from this one quickly. They face the Minnesota Wild Thursday night at KeyBank Center at 7:05 p.m. It’s the first of three games in four nights and 10 games in the next 16 nights.