PREVIEW: Seeking to snap 17-game skid, Buffalo Sabres host Philadelphia Flyers

Mar 27, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Kyle Okposo (21) celebrates his goal with center Cody Eakin (20) during the second period against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Considering how poorly the Buffalo Sabres have fared against the Philadelphia Flyers this season, trying to halt the longest winless stretch in club history won’t get any easier.

Looking to keep that slide from reaching 18 in a row, the Sabres also aim to avoid a fifth consecutive loss to the visiting Flyers on Monday night.

For a good chunk of Saturday’s visit to Boston, it looked like Buffalo would post its first victory since Feb. 23. However, the Sabres failed to hold their 2-1 lead as the Bruins scored twice in the third period to hand the visitors a 3-2 loss.

Buffalo is 0-15-2 since winning at New Jersey in late February. It’s the longest winless slide in franchise history, in the shootout era (which began in 2005-06) of the NHL and overall in the league since the 2003-04 Pittsburgh Penguins went 18 straight without a win.

“I think right now it’s a little bit of a confidence thing,” said Sabres winger Kyle Okposo, who scored Saturday after missing the previous three games with an undisclosed injury.

“Pressure should be off right now. Obviously, we have the weight of what’s going on, but we shouldn’t be squeezing our sticks right now. We should be playing free, playing the right way.”

Buffalo has lost nine straight in regulation since a 5-4 shootout loss at Philadelphia on March 9. Earning a point there was somewhat of a moral victory for the Sabres, who suffered three consecutive 3-0 losses to the Flyers after winning 6-1 in the season’s first matchup on Jan. 18.

The Sabres have also been outscored 39-10 at home during an 0-9-1 slide — their longest such skid since the 1990-91 group went 12 straight without a victory.

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Philadelphia ended an 0-3-1 rut with Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers. Samuel Morin’s first NHL goal broke a 1-1 tie with 4:27 left in regulation for Philadelphia, which put forth a solid defensive performance after allowing 20 goals in the previous four contests.

“We needed this win,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said.

“We’ve worked extremely hard. Guys competed, and we were able to find a way to win. Hopefully for our team it keeps trending in the right way.”

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The Flyers, 5-9-1 in March, will try to win consecutive contests for the first time since a three-game run Feb. 24-28.

Sean Couturier has five points in the last three games, and two goals and three assists in three games against the Sabres this season. Teammate James van Riemsdyk has just two of his team-leading 31 points over the last seven contests, but has two goals and two assists in the last three games versus Buffalo.

Brian Elliott made 24 saves for the Flyers on Saturday. He has stopped 87 of 90 shots in his three wins against Buffalo this season. Teammate Carter Hart, with a 6.46 goals-against average during a three-game skid, is 1-1-0 with a 3.88 GAA versus Buffalo in 2020-21.

Buffalo’s Linus Ullmark made 33 saves Saturday in his return from missing more than a month due to injury. However, Dustin Tokarski (4.11 GAA) could make his third Sabres start with backup Carter Hutton (lower-body injury) day-to-day.

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Sam Reinhart snapped an eight-game goal drought with his 12th on Saturday. He’s scored four of those against the Flyers.

–Field Level Media