PHILADELPHIA — The Buffalo Sabres might be the worst team in the NHL but the Flyers made them look like the 1976 Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.
It took all the energy the Flyers could muster to escape with a point in a 3-2 shootout loss at the Wells Fargo Center.
In the shootout, Buffalo picked up goals from Brian Gionta in the first round and the winner from Brian Flynn in the fourth round.
The one point moved the Flyers to within six points of a playoff spot but the small advance was a disappointment, given the circumstances.
The Flyers are now just 2-7 in shootouts. Conversely, the Sabres are 7-2.
Jake Voracek had the only goal in the shootout for the Flyers.
Playing in front of some of the greatest players in Flyers' history (Eric Lindros, John LeClair, Bernie Parent, Mark Howe, Keith Primeau among others) on Eric Desjardins' induction night for the team's Hall of Fame, the performance was anything but memorable.
Shouldn't the Flyers be beating up a team that has only three wins (3-18-1) in 2015?
Isn't this a game Philadelphia had to have?
"It is,'' the Flyers' Mark Streit said. "We can't look for excuses here. It's a team you have to beat. It's not acceptable. You have to win those games.''
The Flyers had to stagger back from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 just to get to the third period tied at 2.
But the Flyers couldn't generate any offense in the third period and even committed three penalties, which certainly didn't help the cause.
With Nashville and Washington — two powerhouses — coming into town this weekend, losses to Columbus and Buffalo make the Flyers' situation dire once again.
"Every win right now we need,'' Braydon Coburn said. "It doesn't matter what the opponent is. If it's Buffalo, the Rangers, St. Louis, whatever, we need all the points we can get.
"We got one tonight but we still have a lot of work to do. We have to win some games here.''
A lot of the optimism from the recent 6-0-3 run has been tempered by these two sobering losses.
"We don't have the luxury of giving away points right now,'' Coburn reiterated.
Captain Claude Giroux looked frustrated at times and finally was signaled for roughing early in the third period. Coach Craig Berube disclosed he's had talks with Giroux, presumably to calm some emotions.
"We're playing good hockey, we're playing as a team,'' Giroux said. "Every game is tight at this time of the year. We had a lot of good chances. It's obviously disappointing.''
Berube said: "For sure he's frustrated. He's one of the guys who has to produce. I talked to him a lot about different things.''
Jake Voracek's power-play goal off a Wayne Simmonds rebound at 8:45 of the second period pulled the Flyers even.
Before that, Ryan White's first goal as a Flyer on a shot past Michal Neuvirth at 7:23 of the first made it 1-1.
"It feels good to get one with the Flyers,'' said White, who came over to Philadelphia by way of Montreal. "I haven't scored in like over a year so any time I score a goal they feel pretty good. I'm just trying to play simple out there and bring some energy and I'm lucky enough tonight to score one."
Buffalo, which sports a 6-20-2 record on the road, took a 1-0 lead at 4:41 of the first on a goal by Nicholas Deslauriers.
Just 38 seconds into the second period, Gionta got a shot past Ray Emery for another Sabre lead.
Emery did his best in the shootout but it wasn't enough.
"It's a game that we really wanted,'' he said. "We realize they're all big games now and we have to get points.''
Added Giroux: "They (Buffalo) have been playing pretty good hockey. They play a pretty tight game. But that isn't an excuse, we need to find a way to get the two points."
Berube didn't try to find any silver linings about the loss. The Flyers played Columbus and Buffalo twice each in the past week and have just four points to show for those games.