Hot streak meets cold as sizzling Flyers host Sabres

NHL
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The Philadelphia Flyers will be searching for their season-best ninth consecutive victory when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.

The Flyers most recently picked up back-to-back wins — 5-2 on the road against the Washington Capitals last Wednesday followed by a gutsy 4-1 home win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday.

As a result of the latter game, the Flyers improved to 24-5-4 at home.

The Flyers and Capitals finished Thursday tied for first in the Metropolitan Division with 87 points apiece. The Flyers have outscored their opponents 36-16 during this eight-game winning streak, scoring four or more goals in each contest.

“During this winning streak, what’s been really good has been the mindset,” said Sean Couturier, who scored one of the four goals against Carolina. “Our guys are focused every night. It doesn’t matter who the opponent is. That’s something that shows maturity in our team and I think we just have to keep going.”

The three-goal victory was the Flyers’ 40th of the season and also continued to prove how nearly unbeatable they are on their home ice. The players are surging off the energy from the home fans.

“Our crowd was really good (Thursday). I had chills a couple times,” said Scott Laughton, who had a pair of assists and now has nine points in the last six games. “They were really loud and behind us the whole night. It was lots of fun to play. They gave us some energy, for sure.”

First-year head coach Alain Vigneault, who is clearly working his way into Coach of the Year consideration, is quite pleased with the development of his team.

“That was some of the fastest hockey, execution-wise, I’ve seen in a long time,” he said.

The reeling Sabres will be looking to avoid a sixth straight loss when they arrive in Philadelphia. They own a subpar 10-19-4 record on the road.

The Sabres were defeated 4-2 at home by the Pittsburgh Penguins last Thursday. The home loss came after a winless four-game road trip and became the franchise’s longest stint without recording one point since a six-game skid from Dec. 28, 2015-Jan. 8, 2016.

Buffalo’s young star and captain Jack Eichel hasn’t compiled one point in six straight games, the longest streak in his five-year career. Eichel still remains a dangerous player with 35 goals and 42 assists for 77 points.

“It’s fighting up a big hill right now, but more than anything, it’s our offensive production that’s causing us the pain,” Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger said. “We have to keep creating those chances and look to work for the uglier goals.”

The Sabres’ offense has scuffled over the last six games with two or fewer goals.

“We definitely created enough chances to score goals,” forward Marcus Johansson told the Buffalo News. “I think for a lot of that game we were the better team. In the second period we played really well. We pressured them and pushed them back, but we come out empty-handed. It’s frustrating when it’s like that.”

Buffalo is mired in an 0-for-13 slump on the power play over its past six games.

“What can we do?” Krueger said. “We have to keep working. … That’s going to be our only way back into success here.”

–Field Level Media

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