The Buffalo Sabres were at home at KeyBank Center Monday night for a showdown against the Philadelphia Flyers looking to snap their 17 game losing streak, the longest in franchise history. They would look to show some fight against a Flyers team way ahead of them in the standings, and get a win for the first time in the month of March.
The Sabres started the game playing some decent hockey, outshooting the Flyers 5-3 in the first five minutes of the game. Avoiding going down early and playing from behind would be key to winning this game. Despite trading some chances, both goalies kept the other team at bay to start the night.
It would take over 17 minutes for anyone to break the tie, and it was the Sabres’ Henri Jokiharju scoring his second goal of the season to put his team up 1-0 late in the opening frame. Curtis Lazar and Kyle Okposo notched assists on the tally.
Heading into the second period with a lead, the Sabres found themselves in a rare position. They haven’t played much hockey with a lead this season, so it was crucial to try and pot some more goals before the Flyers could get anything going.
A few minutes into the second period, Cody Eakin scored his second goal of the year, his first coming a few weeks ago on an empty net. Tobias Rieder registered the primary assist, his first as a Sabre, and Riley Sheahan added the secondary assist for his fourth of the season.
The middle frame was kind to the Sabres, as defenseman Brandon Montour scored his second goal of the year thanks to helpers from Tage Thompson and Taylor Hall to give the Sabres a 3-0 lead. They haven’t enjoyed a lead by this margin in what seems like a lifetime, so this was a good feeling for Sabres fans heading into the third period.
Trailing by three goals to the worst team in the NHL, the Flyers weren’t about to lay down and die in the third period, not when they are in the midst of a contested playoff push. They started the period off on the right note, with Kevin Hayes scoring early in the final frame to narrow the score to 3-1.
The two teams skated more than half the period without any change in that score, until about the middle of the third when Flyers captain Claude Giroux scored his team’s second goal of the night to make it 3-2. Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek added the assists.
The Flyers would pull their goalie Brian Elliott with a few minutes to go in the game, looking for the tying goal. On a rush toward the empty net, the Sabres had a golden opportunity to seal the game, but Tage Thompson just missed the empty net after a pass from Taylor Hall got ahead of him moving into the Flyers’ end.
That miss came back to bite the Sabres, as Couturier tied up the game, 3-3 with just over a minute left. These two teams were headed to overtime.
The Sabres were determined not to blow this one, but alas, the overtime period ended just as quickly as it began, as Ivan Provorov buried a nifty goal in-close through Linus Ullmark’s five hole to win it for the Flyers, 4-3, less than a minute into OT. The comeback win was complete.
With Monday night’s loss, the Sabres have now tied the NHL’s all-time longest losing streak, dropping their 18th game in a row. They are 0-15-3 during that stretch, and one more loss will make them the new record holders for longest losing streak. The Sabres have a grudge match against the Flyers on Wednesday, and will look to avoid that dishonorable record, if they can.