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Sabres, Flyers open home-and-home with playoff hopes long gone

Apr 14, 2022; Buffalo, New York, USA;  Buffalo Sabres defenseman Owen Power (25) waits for the face-off during the second period against the St. Louis Blues at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

In two weeks, the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers will head into the offseason after finishing the 2021-22 campaign well out of playoff contention.

Only the Sabres can feel somewhat satisfied about recent results, and they will attempt to continue their respectable finish to the season Saturday night when they host the Philadelphia Flyers to start a home-and-home set.

The Sabres (27-38-11, 65 points) will miss the playoffs for the 11th straight season and will finish under .500 for the ninth consecutive campaign. They were done in by a 3-13-4 stretch from Nov. 18-Jan. 11 before dropping six straight Feb. 17-27.

Since the six-game skid, Buffalo is a respectable 11-8-3 in its past 22 contests, a stretch that has seen them earn wins over playoff-bound teams the Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild, Pittsburgh Penguins, Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs (three times).

Despite the respectable results for the past few weeks, Buffalo also is 1-4-0 in its past five games. The Sabres halted a three-game losing streak with Tuesday’s 5-2 win at Toronto but were outplayed in the latter portion of their 6-2 loss to the visiting St. Louis Blues on Thursday, when they allowed the final four goals.

The past two games have seen the debut of defenseman Owen Power, Buffalo’s top pick from last year’s draft. He wound up being on the ice for two of Vladimir Tarasenko’s three goals for St. Louis.

“When you play against these top players, you have to learn a lot and you obviously make a lot of mistakes where you’re glad you’re able to learn from it,” Power said. “Every game I’m going to get better and work on things. This is a step in the right direction.”

Despite Power’s struggles, he recorded his first NHL point when he notched the primary assist on Alex Tuch’s goal.

“Everytime he was out there, it put a smile on my face,” Sabres winger Rasmus Asplund said. “It was fun to watch. I haven’t seen him play much and these two games, I think he’s been looking great.

Philadelphia (23-40-11, 57 points) is barely in position to improve on the 58 points it recorded in 56 games last season.

The Flyers own 25 losses by at least three goals, third in the league behind the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings. They picked up two more when they were outscored by a combined 13-2 in a back-to-back set against the host Washington Capitals Tuesday and the visiting New York Rangers. Against New York they dressed seven rookies, including goalie Felix Sandstrom.

“There were a few lapses in there, no question, but I don’t think the issue was effort,” Philadelphia interim coach Mike Yeo said. “The guys played hard tonight.”

Philadelphia only allowed one goal in the first period Wednesday after allowing three in the opening 20 minutes to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday.

The Flyers likely will be without several regulars against Buffalo. Goalie Carter Hart (lower body), defensemen Rasmus Ristolainen (upper body) and Cam York (lower body), along with forwards Nate Thompson (lower body) and Cam Atkinson (lower body) did not play Wednesday. Of those players, only Atkinson and Thompson are likely to play again this season.

Buffalo has won the past three meetings by a combined 17-7 margin and is 3-0-2 in the past five encounters.

–Field Level Media