Sabres 6, Flyers 3: A promising game turned into a collapse

Sorry your retirement party was so lame, Coatesy.

Morgan Frost skates by the Philadelphia Flyers bench receiving fist bumps from his teammates after scoring a goal
Heather Barry Images

It was an eventful night for the Flyers as not only were they celebrating the 43-year-long career of broadcaster Steve Coates, but it was also Travis Konecny's first game since February 20. Going into this contest, Konecny still sat as the team's leading goal-scorer and their overall points leader, which proves exactly how much his presence on the team was missed.

To kick the game off, the Flyers held a ceremony for Coates. As retirement gifts, they presented him with a new golf cart and will rename the Inside Edge bar to Coatesy's Corner. It was a lovely ceremony for a beloved figure to this franchise, but it did push puck drop back to almost 7:30. Whoops.

Period 1

Around the halfway mark of the first frame, Owen Tippett took off with the puck on a 2-on-1 breakaway with Joel Farabee. As they entered the zone, Tippett decided to pass the puck instead of shoot, but Farabee wasn't able to cleanly receive it. A few minutes later, Wade Allison had a breakaway chance of his own, but it went too high.

This early jump to their game wasn't going to go unrewarded. Morgan Frost, who has been on a hot streak as of late, sniped the puck from nearly on his knees past Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen.

With 9.3 seconds left in the period, despite the 14-4 shot differential between them, the Sabres broke through with a goal of their own courtesy of Kyle Okposo. Frost had gone to make a pass, but it was intercepted, allowing the Sabres to break out on a rush. Felix Sandström wasn't able to stop Okposo's shot.

Buffalo's goal put a damper on the tail end of a period that had mostly been all Flyers, but as we've probably all internalized by now from watching this team all season, we're not allowed to have nice things like a lead going into the first intermission.

Period 2

It only took a minute and a half for the Sabres to take the lead into their own hands. The puck bounced in and out of the net quickly enough that the goal light didn't even go off. It took until the referees whistled the play dead for it to become clear that Alex Tuch scored.

Shortly later, the Flyers continued to collapse with another Buffalo goal. Tyson Jost played the puck behind and around the net and when his shot rebounded, Jordan Greenway was able to clean it up and get it past Sandström.

Then, it became Jeff Skinner's turn to join the scoring party. The Buffalo goals were coming down harder than the rain that hit Philadelphia prior to puck drop. For every Flyers fan these past couple of weeks who's been asking, "Why can't they just lose?" the opening 3:46 of this period must have been a dream come true.

As the period went on, the Flyers were starting to regain some control over the pace of the game, but it never seemed to be enough to make an impact. Luukkonen was stopping everything that came his way.

Their inability to score just allowed for more opportunities for the Sabres, and Tuch scored his second of the night with about four minutes left to go in the period.

Frost decided he wasn't going to just let this team roll over and take a beating tonight as he scored a response goal only 22 seconds after Tuch's second. After intercepting Joel Farabee's pass, Frost deked his way around multiple Sabres players before snapping the puck top corner past Luukkonen.

It wasn't the only effort Frost would put into the last couple minutes of the period, as he also had a spin-o-rama scoring attempt to try for the hat trick, but the potential highlight reel goal was solidly stopped. The Flyers may have been down 5-2 going into the second intermission, but Frost's play was a much needed boost of energy for the team.

Period 3

Ivan Provorov took a penalty early in the period, which considering how often the Flyers take a penalty kill and turn it into a power kill, it wasn't the worst thing the team could've done. They were unable to convert on a shorthanded goal, though.

Shortly after they killed off the penalty, Konecny made his return to the lineup known. Right off the faceoff from Noah Cates, Konecny sniped it past Luukkonen. Welcome back, bud.

Thanks NBCS broadcast for the ad right on top of the play.

The Flyers were also doing some stronger defensive work in this period, holding the Sabres to only two shots on goal throughout 13 minutes into the period. Yet, it would all turn around on them. Frost had forced a penalty out of Rasmus Dahlin, and instead of being a power play advantage, Tuch scored shorthanded to give him a hat trick.

The Flyers ended the night with 42 shots on goal, which sets a team record for this season. Despite the effort, it wasn't enough for them to secure the win – or even a loser point.

Final Thoughts

Games like this one honestly feel like the ideal scenario for how the remaining games of the season should go. There's a reason John Tortorella hates to hear fans asking for the team to tank. When you're a coach or a player, you don't want to be actively throwing the games away. There's still so much to play for, like your own pride.

Plus, there are always habits to build upon. Watching Frost put up his second two-goal night in three games is huge for a player that had been described by Tortorella as an up-and-down toilet seat. These are the games that help prove he should still be with the Flyers next season. Konecny getting a goal in his return is also massive for making sure he ends the season on a high note despite the injury.

Yet, they still got outplayed. The team's flaws were still on display. That's how both sides get to be happy – the Flyers can push their players to still do well, and they can better secure a high draft pick.

Hopefully the outcome is the same as the Flyers travel into Pittsburgh for the second half of a back-to-back against a Penguins team that's fighting for its life to squeeze into a wild card spot.