Flyers-Sabres Preview

TOM CASTRO (STATS Senior Editor)
The Associated Press

Solid defensive play was a key part of the Philadelphia Flyers' recent hot streak, but they've struggled in their own end while dropping their last two games.

A matchup with the worst offensive team in the league may give them a good chance to get back on track, though the Buffalo Sabres have been surging at home.

The Flyers look to avoid a third consecutive loss Tuesday night when they take on the Sabres, who despite their problems on offense have earned points in three in a row and eight straight at home.

Philadelphia (23-19-4) followed up its last three-game skid by going 10-2-1 from Dec. 12-Jan. 8, allowing 34 goals, but it's been outscored 10-4 in its last two. The Flyers fell behind 3-0 after one period Sunday, allowing two goals in an early 28-second span, and lost 4-1 to the New York Rangers.

Philadelphia held a 38-35 advantage in shots, but managed only Mark Streit's power-play goal 6:49 into the third.

''It's frustrating,'' said the Flyers' Ray Emery, who stopped 31 shots. ''I've got to make some saves, and we've got to come out better. Anytime you put yourself in a hole like that against a team that is playing well like they are, you don't give yourself much of a chance.''

Philadelphia didn't help its goaltender with sloppy defensive play and by being short-handed five times in the first two periods.

"In this league you have to work really hard without the puck - especially in this building and we didn't do that," Streit told the team's official website. "Once you are behind by two or three goals it's hard to catch up. You can't (come from behind) in every game in this league. You can do it a few times but we just need to make sure we are ready to go Tuesday and shake this one off by learning from our mistakes."

That means starting strong against the Sabres (13-26-5), who are last in the NHL with a minus-27 goal differential in the first period.

Buffalo, though, has given up one total goal in the opening 20 minutes of its last four games, going 2-0-1 in the past three. Ryan Miller made 28 saves - one a spectacular stop on Mikhail Grabovski late in regulation - and three more in the shootout of a 2-1 victory over Washington on Sunday.

The Sabres, who avoided what would have been a team record-tying 12th straight road loss, have picked up five points in the last three contests despite recording four non-shootout goals. Their 77 goals are by far the fewest in the league.

Despite that, Buffalo has gone 6-0-2 in its last eight at home, giving up two or fewer goals in each contest.

"You see in the home wins and just the way we're playing, we're coming," leading scorer Cody Hodgson told the team's website after netting the shootout winner.

Miller has given up one goal in four of his past six starts. He made 42 saves in a 4-1 road loss to the Flyers on Nov. 21 in the teams' first meeting of the season.

Philadelphia has scored a power-play goal in four of the past five games, while Buffalo has allowed one in 19 short-handed situations over the last six.

The Sabres took the last two home meetings with Philadelphia last season.

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