BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Rasmus Dahlin had a defiant response to those counting out the Buffalo Sabres, who suddenly find themselves in the mix of a tightly contested Eastern Conference playoff race following a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday night.

“We’re a team that never gives up,” Dahlin said. “We’re a strong core in here and we will look at the result once the last game has been played. All we can do is just play our best hockey every game.”

And don’t count out the Flyers either, coach John Tortorella insisted even after Philadelphia’s skid reached a season-worst 0-4-2.

“I was encouraged with a lot of things with our game,” he said of an outing in which the Flyers out-shot their opponents 33-19. “It’s as on the toes as we’ve been in a few weeks here. So, that’s the way we have to play. We have to bury some of our chances, obviously.”

Despite the loss, the Flyers remain in the playoff picture with 83 points, but dropped from third in the Metropolitan Division standings to the East’s second and final wild card. The New York Islanders, also at 83 points, now sit third in the Metropolitan by having one game in hand over the Flyers.

The race is so tight, four points separate eighth-place Philadelphia and the 12th-place Sabres.

Rookie Jack Quinn scored twice and Tage Thompson had a goal and assist. Dahlin scored his 19th goal to join Phil Housley as Buffalo's only defensemen to score that many in a season.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 32 shots to improve to 20-12-1 since taking over the starting duties in late December.

Owen Tippett had a goal and assist and Noah Cates also scored for the Flyers. And Philadelphia failed to get a boost from rookie 27-year-old goalie Ivan Fedotov, who looked shaky in allowing three goals on the first 12 shots he faced in his first career NHL start. He finished with 15 saves, after making his NHL debut as a backup in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Islanders on Monday.

“Not the best game for me,” Fedotov said, noting the lack of action prevented him from getting into a rhythm. “But it’s my problem. Not team or whatever. ... Hundred percent I should be better.”

Thompson opened the scoring 10:01 in by driving up the right wing and fooling Fedotov by faking into the middle, before depositing the puck into the open side. Dahlin and Quinn scored 4:03 apart in the second period to put Buffalo up 3-1 by beating Fedotov with 35-plus foot snap shots.

And Quinn’s second goal sealed the win with 6:01 remaining when he converted his own rebound after Fedotov was slow to recover.

“A hard game because he didn’t get much action, not many chances,” Tortorella said, defending Fedotov. “But it’s both. I think we need another save. But I also think we need to capitalize on our chances. And that’s the difference in the game.”

The 6-foot-7, 214-pound Fedotov was the Flyers’ 2015 seventh-round pick, whose anticipated arrival in Philadelphia in July 2022 was delayed after the goalie was taken by authorities to a remote military base in the Arctic Circle for a year of service. Fedotov then spent this past year playing for CSKA Moscow of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League before the team terminated the second year of contract once it was eliminated from the playoffs last month.

The Flyers were thoroughly outplaying the Sabres in the second period, which led to Buffalo coach Don Granato calling a timeout after Cates tied the game at 1 amid a flurry of chances.

“I liked the response,” Granato said of an outing the Sabres never relinquished the lead. “I thought we elevated where we needed to and it was a back-and-forth affair. But at least our competitiveness rose to the level it needed to to be successful."


Flyers: At the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

Sabres: At the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.


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