Unbeaten no more as Flyers suffer worst home loss of the Vigneault era originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The Flyers came nowhere close to their first 3-0-0 start since 2011-12.
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Instead, they suffered their worst home loss in the Alain Vigneault era as the Flyers were thumped by the Sabres, 6-1, on Monday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers had not allowed six or more goals in 35 home games last season. They did so in Game 3 of their 2020-21 season, the second year with Vigneault holding the reins.
The Sabres are no longer the only winless team in the realigned East Division as they improved to 1-2-0.
Despite scoring 11 goals over their first two games, the Flyers have now been outshot 104-69 in their 2-1-0 start. The Flyers avoided being shut out thanks to Nicolas Aube-Kubel's goal late in the third period.
• The Flyers were thoroughly outworked in the second period as the Sabres flat out took it to a team that prides itself on dictating terms.
Think the Flyers missed Sean Couturier? The club's possession monster at center is out a minimum of two weeks with a costochondral separation and the Flyers could've used his Selke Trophy strengths. Particularly in the middle frame, the Flyers lost puck battles and had breakdowns in the defensive zone.
Carter Hart was yanked in the second period and the unraveling started with a tripping penalty called on the netminder. Sam Reinhart handed the Flyers their first multi-goal deficit of the season with a power play marker to give Buffalo a 2-0 advantage.
Reinhart struck again fewer than three minutes later when the Sabres' top line ate up a breakdown by the Flyers in the defensive zone. The 6-foot-5 Philippe Myers couldn't push Taylor Hall off the puck along the boards and Travis Sanheim failed to cut off the ensuing pass, which led to Reinhart's 3-0 goal.
Hart was pulled before the midway mark of the second period when Curtis Lazar scored his second goal of the game to pin the Flyers in a 4-0 hole. The puck trickled its way through Erik Gustafsson's legs right to Buffalo's fourth-line center on the doorstep.
Gustafsson, the Flyers' offseason acquisition with an offensive-minded game on the back end, struggled in 18:04 ice time.
• After head coach Alain Vigneault emphasized the importance of puck management in his morning media availability, the Flyers failed to manage the puck well in the opening 20 minutes.
The Flyers had six giveaways during the first period, one by Gustafsson that resulted in a Jack Eichel-led 2-on-1. Fortunately for the Flyers, Buffalo botched it. But the Sabres scored not long after on Lazar's first.
The wheels then fell off in the second period.
• With Couturier out, Morgan Frost made his season debut, playing between Travis Konecny and Oskar Lindblom. Frost — and the Flyers as a whole — couldn't generate much. The 21-year-old center went 7 for 13 in the faceoff dot and didn't have a shot on goal in 12:10 minutes.
In desperation mode during the third period, Vigneault juggled his forward lines and defensive pairs for the first time this season.
Sanheim saw a mini tryout on the Flyers' top pair with Ivan Provorov.
• Hart had made 62 saves on 67 shots in the Flyers' pair of wins over the Penguins. The 22-year-old goalie allowed four goals on 22 shots against Buffalo.
The Flyers weren't good and he wasn't good behind them, which is a recipe for a 6-1 loss.
Before surrendering three goals to the Sabres within eight-plus minutes of the middle frame, Hart had allowed only two goals in the second and third periods of the club's first two games.
The Sabres' final two goals by Henri Jokiharju and Victor Olofsson came against Brian Elliott.
For Buffalo, Carter Hutton was in net with Linus Ullmark unavailable because of personal reasons. Hutton made 21 saves on 22 shots.
• Hall and Eichel did damage with three assists apiece.
• Monday marked the 63rd anniversary of Willie O'Ree's NHL debut. O'Ree broke the color barrier in hockey on Jan. 18, 1958, when he became the first Black player to play in an NHL game.
Prior to puck drop, a nice tribute was played on the Wells Fargo Center scoreboard to commemorate O'Ree and celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
• The Flyers and Sabres are right back at it Tuesday to wrap up their back-to-back set in Philadelphia (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
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