BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Sabres first win streak of the season ground to a halt Friday night with a 5-1 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Defenseman Henri Jokiharju scored the lone goal for Buffalo (5-6-0), his first of the year, but not until the Flyers built a 4-0 lead after two periods.
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonnen made 15 saves in losing for the first time in four starts.
The Sabres won 5-2 in Philadelphia on Wednesday night despite recording a season-low 15 shots on goal. They managed only four shots on goal in the first period Friday, while falling behind 3-0.
“We didn’t play well on Wednesday but won a game,” captain Kyle Okposo said. “That’s going to happen. Obviously, playing the same team twice, it’s hard to beat the same team two times in a row in this league.”
Coach Don Granato said the Sabres’ listless start was “tough to explain as far as some indecisiveness and not playing direct. That was the root of our problems, the root of our challenge tonight.”
Luukkonen let in two goals with the first two minutes, as many as he allowed over the past two games. By the time he allowed the third goal, the Flyers were on their way to generating 14 scoring chances, six from high-danger areas, in the opening period.
“We didn’t play the game that needed to be played,” Okposo said. “They outworked us in that first period, for sure, and that’s not something we’re going to take lightly and that’s not something we should ever be saying after a game is we got outworked. It’s frustrating. There’s going to be games where we’re flat, but coming off a game on Wednesday where we didn’t have our legs and we look a little bit complacent, to come out flat is disappointing.”
Defenseman Mattias Samuelsson sustained a lower-body injury in the first period and did not return. Granato did not have an update on his condition afterward.
Buffalo had a 9-15-3 record last season in games without Samuelsson, the top stay-at-home defender paired with All-Star Rasmus Dahlin. He hasn’t missed a game yet this season, having hurt his upper body in a win against the Lightning last month, but recovering to play the next game.
D-man Connor Clifton returned to the Sabres lineup after being suspended for two games for checking Nico Hischier in the head last week in New Jersey.
On the forward lines, the Sabres called up Lukas Rousek from Rochester to make his season debut while placing rookie Zach Benson (lower body) on injured reserve. Rousek skated on the third line with Dylan Cozens and Alex Tuch, while another call-up, Brandon Biron, remained on the top line with Tage Thompson and Jordan Greenway.
Victor Olofsson was a healthy scratch for the fifth time in 11 games, along with Tyson Jost, who has been scratched four times.
Promising young D-man Owen Power was leading the Sabres with a plus-9 rating through the first 10 games, having scored the winner in Philadelphia on Wednesday.
In this game, Power was on the ice for all five goals against.
“He had a tough time with the puck,” Granato said. “But it happens. And certainly, he had a tough night but there wasn’t much help in instances when there should’ve been at certain times.”
Suffering a rare loss wearing their throwback “goat head” uniforms, the Sabres are now 12-2-1 in the black and red attire over the past year.
The Sabres’ only regulation loss on a throwback night last season came against the Flyers, by a 4-0 score.
Buffalo visits rival Toronto on Saturday night.
Jonah Bronstein joined the WIVB squad in 2022 as a digital sports reporter. The Buffalonian has covered the Bills, Sabres, Bandits, Bisons, colleges, high schools and other notable sporting events in Western New York since 2005, for publications including The Associated Press, The Buffalo News, and Niagara Gazette. Read more of his work here.