By Sam Bush
The Flyers are in a bind.
They are riding their longest point streak in three seasons.
But their ability to blow leads has kept them from making more progress in the playoff race. So they are sitting seven points behind Boston for the Eastern Conference’s final postseason spot.
The Flyers will try to aid that pursuit tonight night in Buffalo, the first of two matchups with the last-place Sabres in five days.
Philly (23-22-10) has earned at least one point in eight consecutive games (5-0-3) for its longest streak since 2011-12 but has also taken losses in three of its last four contests. The Flyers squandered a two-goal lead in the third period Friday in a 4-3 overtime defeat in Columbus.
They also failed to capitalize on an early lead in Montreal in a 2-1 overtime loss Tuesday and blew a two-goal advantage in a 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Feb. 5.
“On one hand, it’s good getting points out of all the games but we lost a few points the last couple of games,” defenseman Mark Streit said. “We played really well over stretches but at some points, we lost focus and had some bad periods. Overall, we’re confident and (Sunday’s game) is crucial.”
The Sabres have just three victories in their last 24 overall contests and endured a franchise-worst 14-game losing streak that ended Feb. 3. They’ve dropped their past two games by one goal apiece.
Buffalo couldn’t recover from a three-goal deficit in a 3-2 loss to the Islanders last Sunday and gave up the tiebreaking goal with 7:45 remaining in a 2-1 defeat to Ottawa on Tuesday.
On pace for their fewest goals in a full season, the Sabres have started to make deals before the March 2 trade deadline. They acquired beleaguered forward Evander Kane and defenseman Zach Bogosian from Winnipeg on Wednesday in a seven-player deal that most notably sent Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford to the Jets.
While Kane is out after undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery, Bogosian could make his debut for the Sabres on Sunday.
“He’s got a great personality. He’s excited about being here,” coach Ted Nolan said. “People in Buffalo want to see some energy and some body collisions. He likes to play that style.”
Buffalo also got goaltender Anders Lindback from Dallas on Wednesday for netminder Jhonas Enroth, but Michal Neuvirth is expected to serve as the team’s main starter for the rest of the season.
If he starts Sunday, Neuvirth will have to be wary of Wayne Simmonds. He has five goals and four assists in his last seven games, and had two goals and an assist Friday.
Simmonds has no goals and four assists in his last eight matchups with Buffalo. Matt Read has three goals and three assists in the four-game win streak over Buffalo, and Vincent Lecavalier has three goals and two assists.
The Sabres will visit the Wells on Thursday night.