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Flyers aim to end slide against visiting Sabres
(SportsNetwork.com) - With a spot in the playoffs still hanging in the balance, the Philadelphia Flyers will try to avoid their longest losing streak of the season when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday.
The Flyers have matched their worst skid of the season with losses in four straight games. The skid began with a pair of shootout setbacks, but the last two losses have come in regulation.
Philadelphia now finds itself just two points ahead of Columbus for the third of the Metropolitan Division's three automatic playoff bids. Both teams have five games remaining in the regular season and the Blue Jackets, who posted a 2-0 win in Philly on Thursday, are playing Sunday against the visiting New York Islanders.
If the Flyers lose out to Columbus for the division's third spot, the club could still land one of the Eastern Conference's two wild card spots. Philadelphia is currently three ahead of Toronto and New Jersey, who are both one point behind the Blue Jackets for the last playoff berth in the East.
After Columbus dealt the Flyers their second consecutive shutout defeat on Thursday, Philadelphia was at least able to find the net in Saturday's 5-2 loss at Boston.
Wayne Simmonds and Jay Rosehill lit the lamp for the Flyers, who were tied with the Bruins after 40 minutes before allowing Boston to score three unanswered goals in the third.
"I think we're a confident team still. I don't think we're playing the way we can," said Flyers head coach Craig Berube.
Ray Emery had a busy day in net, turning aside 37-of-41 shots in defeat. Steve Mason will get the start for the Flyers tonight and is 2-3-0 with a 2.65 goals against average and .895 save percentage in five career games against Buffalo.
The Flyers have won the first two of three meetings against Buffalo this season, posting a 4-1 home win on Nov. 21 before notching a 4-3 regulation win at First Niagara Center on Jan. 14.
Philadelphia has claimed seven of nine overall in the series with Buffalo and four straight on home ice.
With 51 points and five games left on their schedule, the Sabres are guaranteed to finish last in the NHL this season. The only time Buffalo finished at the bottom of the league standings was in 1986-87 when it was tied with New Jersey for the worst record with 64 points.
The rebuilding club has lost two straight, six of seven and 13 of its last 15 games, but did make a valiant comeback effort in Friday's 3-2 regulation loss in Detroit.
The Red Wings jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, but Buffalo crept back into the game thanks to a power-play goal from Jamie McBain in the second period and another tally from Nicolas Deslauriers with 13:20 left in the game.
Buffalo, which saw Matt Hackett give up all three goals on 31 shots, was never able to register the tying goal, but the struggling team was proud of the effort.
"We competed, we showed we can play with any team, first place or a great team like Detroit here," said Hackett. "We're going in the right direction, I think."
Friday's setback was Buffalo's fifth straight on the road. The club is just 8-27-3 as the visiting team this season and is completing a three-game road trip on Sunday.
04/06 11:57:06 ET