Defenseman Chris Pronger skated but did not shoot the puck Friday, a clear sign he will not play Saturday in Game 2 against Buffalo.
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The Flyers’ power play struggled down the stretch and it carried into Thursday’s Eastern Conference opener against streaking Buffalo.
They came up empty on five power plays, which totaled 9:22 with an extra skater or two, and it came back to haunt them in a 1-0 loss to the Sabres at the sold-out Wells Fargo Center,
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“I thought we had some pretty decent looks, but sometimes the puck doesn’t bounce your way, and that is something we will have to keep working on,” winger James van Riemsdyk said.
In their last 14 regular-season games, the Flyers were a dismal 5 for 41 (12.2 percent) on the power play. They were without injured defenseman Chris Pronger, the power play’s quarterback, for all 14 games.
“If Chris Pronger was available, he could be a difference maker. I think that speaks for itself,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “But he’s not, so there is no sense worrying about things we don’t have right now.”
Pronger has not played since March 8 because of a broken right hand. He is listed as day to day, but the Game 1 loss may expedite his return.
Ryan Miller made 35 saves and notched the second playoff shutout of his career, but he wasn’t forced to make many difficult stops as the second-seeded Flyers didn’t get many bodies in front.
Buffalo, the No. 7 seed and a team that finished the regular season on a 9-1-1 run, got a boost when it killed a five-on-three disadvantage for 38 seconds in the second period.
“It’s about getting those second-chance opportunities with a goalie like Miller,” said van Riemsdyk, who had six shots and was the Flyers’ best player Thursday. “If he sees the first shot, he’s going to save it, so we need to get traffic in front of him and do a good job of getting those loose pucks.”
Game 2 is Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center.
“We have to have a short memory in the playoffs,” van Riemsdyk said. “The games come at you pretty quick. No matter what happened in this first game we are going to have to respond in Game 2. We know where we are at now, and we are going to have to have that much desperation.”
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Boos were heard when the Flyers failed to get a shot on a third-period power play.
“I think they are just frustrated.” defenseman Sean O’Donnell said. “I think a lot of people had questions on how we were going to respond after our February and March, and even though we didn’t win tonight, I think everyone would agree this is a big difference from the way we played the last 20 games.”
O’Donnell said he understood how the fans were feeling.
“They have waited for a winner for a long time here, and the city has teased them a little bit,” he said. “I think they just got frustrated with the game that we weren’t scoring. Like I said, it was the first one….They got No. 1 and we will be ready for Game 2.”
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The lone goal, scored by Patrick Kaleta, came 45:56 into the game. It marked the longest period of time without a goal in a Flyers playoff game since April 17, 2002, when Philadelphia defeated Ottawa, 1-0, in Game 1 of a conference quarterfinals series. Ruslan Fedotenko scored 7:47 into the first overtime (67:47).
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