Flyers analysis

Flyers lose Hart and another close game in third, finish homestand 1-3-0

Hart exited in the first period with an injury

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The Flyers found themselves in another tight game Wednesday night.

But without their No. 1 goalie.

After entering the third period in a 2-2 game, the Flyers suffered a 5-2 loss to the Sabres at the Wells Fargo Center.

Carter Hart had to leave just 10 minutes into the game because of a mid-body injury. He yielded two goals on five shots.

Brandon Biro's second goal of the night for Buffalo was a game-sealing empty-netter.

The Flyers (4-5-1) have hit some hard times early in this rebuilding season. They've lost five of their last six games (1-4-1) but have been outscored only 25-20 over that stretch.

"What we need to do is just stay with it," head coach John Tortorella said. "I think that’s the most important thing, is to not overthink it, just continue to try to play the right way."

Points-wise, this is the team's worst start through 10 games since 2018-19, when it opened 4-6-0.

Last season, in Year 1 under Tortorella, the Flyers were 5-3-2 through their first 10 games.

On Wednesday night, Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson scored goals for the Flyers.

Travis Sanheim picked up two more assists.

Tortorella's club went 1-3-0 on its four-game homestand. Five of its next six games come on the road.

The Flyers won't have to wait long for their next shot at the Sabres (5-5-0).

• In relief duty, Samuel Ersson converted seven saves on nine shots.

Buffalo got two on him in the third period to take control of the game. The Flyers were not real sharp with the puck or in their transition defense.

"After the first period, I think they had seven or eight shots throughout the rest of the game, I think two or three scoring chances, and they scored," Tortorella said. "Yeah, there were some breakdowns, but there are going to be breakdowns.

"As I've said to you guys, we will have some breakdowns in the way we want to play. I like the attitude of how we play. I see a lot of good things in how we’re playing. And how we’re playing, the aggressiveness of our play, we’re going to have some breakdowns.

"I’m not laying it on the goalie, but we’re going to need some saves along the way there, too. That’s just the way we’re going to go about this this year. I believe we’ll get there."

Sabres netminder Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen was very good, stopping 38 of the Flyers' 40 shots.

• After sporting the league's worst power play in 2021-22 (12.6 percent) and 2022-23 (15.6 percent), the Flyers are off to a 4-for-35 start on the man advantage this season.

The Flyers went 0 for 3 against Buffalo.

More growing pains were to be expected on the power play this season. The Flyers have a lot of youth in their personnel.

Tortorella gives assistant coaches Rocky Thompson and Brad Shaw autonomy in running the special teams units.

Thompson oversees the club's power play and Shaw the penalty kill. Like Tortorella, both are in their second season with the Flyers.

"Rocky and I talk about personnel, we all talk. Even with Shawsy's penalty killing, we all talk," Tortorella said Wednesday before morning skate. "But that's theirs. They're a hell of a lot more intelligent about it than I am. A lot of the X's and O's are going to them. They do a great job. I know the power play hasn't worked, but I trust Rocky and what he wants that to be.

"So I give them a lot of that X's and O's because I want to coach the mind and I want to coach the intangible and a lot of different things as far as where our standard is. We talk about it, but Rocky has final say. I may make suggestions and at times I may overrule because I just need to get a guy going sometimes with the personnel and where they fit on the power play. But not that often. I leave it up to him."

The Flyers lost Carter Hart to a mid-body injury and fell to the Sabres, 5-2.

• Through the first 10 games last season, Sanheim had one point (an assist).

Through the first 10 games this season, he has 10 points (one goal, nine assists).

He has looked like the guy the Flyers were raving about during training camp and the preseason.

On Atkinson's game-tying 2-2 goal in the first period, he pushed the pace and made a nice pass in transition.

• For a second straight game, the Flyers caught the opponent offside and won a coach's challenge. Buffalo's original 2-1 lead in the first period was erased by Tortorella and the Flyers' video coaches, who are 3 for 3 on challenges so far.

But 34 seconds later, the Sabres struck again and this one counted. Biro knocked home a loose puck right at Hart's doorstep. The Flyers' goalie then departed as Ersson took over.

"We all know what Sam's capable of," Sanheim said. "I'm sure more ice time for him or more game action is going to help him. We're not worried at all with Sam in net."

• Buffalo star Tage Thompson did damage on the Flyers with a goal and two primary assists.

He had a slick drop pass to Owen Power as the Sabres grabbed a 3-2 advantage a little over three minutes into the third period. It was an odd-man rush after Cam York pinched but couldn't keep the puck in the offensive zone for the Flyers.

Then, Thompson pretty much put the Flyers away, finding the back of the net with 6:32 minutes left. Noah Cates had a costly giveaway on the goal. He was critical of himself for a third-period turnover Monday night.

Thompson, a 6-foot-6 center, had a 47-goal, 94-point season last year. The Flyers held him scoreless in two meetings; he missed the third matchup because of an upper-body injury.

"Obviously he has an assist there in the third and a goal, so don't do a good enough job on him," Scott Laughton said. "We'll get back to it. Lucky we get these guys again in a couple of days."

• The Flyers announced Tuesday that Felix Sandstrom was loaned to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley for conditioning purposes.

The third-string goalie had been with the big club since training camp but hadn't played a regular-season game. A conditioning loan can last for a maximum of 14 consecutive days. After the stint, if the Flyers want Sandstrom to stay with the Phantoms, the 26-year-old will have to clear waivers.

• The Flyers and Sabres are right back at it Friday in Buffalo, New York (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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