For the first time in nearly two weeks, the Buffalo Sabres dropped a game in regulation, falling to the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1. With the loss, the Sabres fall to 8-18-6 and remain in the basement of the Eastern Conference.
In honor of the release of "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" you'll notice some references from a galaxy far, far away.
Five observations from Thursday's loss:
“In my experience, there is no such thing as luck.” – Obi-Wan Kenobi
Sorry Obi-Wan, I'm going to disagree with this one. When you throw pucks on net every once in a while you'll get a lucky bounce or a weird goal. Against the Flyers the Sabres had some quality chances, they just didn't throw nearly enough pucks to the net.
When the final buzzer went off the Sabres had only 20 shots. Philadelphia deserves some credit for playing some stingy defense but seven shots in the third period when playing from behind isn't going to cut it.
Return of the Jedi
Ryan O'Reilly has some Jedi like qualities, right? Just minutes into Thursday's game the Sabres assistant captain scored his first goal in 13 games, returning to the score sheet.
O'Reilly has been inconsistent this season, especially compared to his first two years in Buffalo. Despite his struggles, O'Reilly is third on the Sabres with 21 points in 32 games.
O'Reilly will be the first to tell you that he needs to play better. For the sake of the Sabres, hopefully, his first goal since November 17th will be a step in the right direction.
The Phantom Menace
We can all agree that the worst movie in the Star Wars series is "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace". So naturally, this observation is reserved for the sloppiest play of the night.
In the first period, just minutes after the Sabres scored a sloppy goal, the Flyers returned the favor. Justin Falk tried to make a play behind the net, only for the pass to be blocked, eventually finding Travis Sanheim's stick in front of the net. Seconds later, Sanheim fired a wrist shot past Lehner, scoring his first NHL goal.
Falk doesn't deserve all the blame, he could've been bailed out by a teammate picking up Sanheim or a nice save by Lehner. However, this really killed the momentum the Sabres started the game with.
Zemgus Girgensons......now that's a name I haven't heard in a long time
It has been a forgettable season for Zemgus Girgensons. He returned to the lineup on Sunday against the St. Louis Blues and has looked like a different player after he was a healthy scratch twice last week.
The former All-Star gave the Sabres an early spark, crashing into the boards and forcing a turnover from Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott. Girgensons then slid the puck in front of the net to a wide-open O'Reilly, who scored the Sabres first and only goal of the evening.
So just how bad have things been for Girgensons offensively? His first-period assist was his first point since October 14th. If Girgensons wants to stay in the lineup he'll need to play like he did against the Flyers every night.
Great pressure by Girgensons to make that play. I would've popped that one in.
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) December 15, 2017
A New Hope
Robin Lehner continues to play some really impressive hockey, keeping his team in games they have no business in. On Thursday, Lehner stepped up once again, allowing two goals on two sloppy plays by the Sabres.
Lehner hasn't allowed more than three goals since the first day of December in a 4-0 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. For what it's worth, I think Lehner should be in net again on Friday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.