The Flyers needed the rest.

After playing six games in nine days — they went 3-3 during that span, including Sunday’s 3-1 home loss to Washington — the Flyers had a day off Monday and a chance to catch their collective breath and regroup.

When they return Tuesday against the scuffling Buffalo Sabres, they need to play with much more precision, and need to reestablish themselves in a week that includes two more games vs. the Capitals.

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The Flyers have fallen out of a playoff spot in the tough East Division, so if they want to stay connected to the division’s leaders, a strong week is necessary. The top four East teams will make the playoffs.

“We’ll regroup here, reenergize, and get ready for the next game,” coach Alain Vigneault said after the Flyers’ third loss in their last four decisions.

The Flyers didn’t want to blame their latest defeat on their heavy workload.

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“I’m pretty sure all the teams are on the same schedule,” said defenseman Ivan Provorov, who is a combined minus-7 over the Flyers’ last three losses, including a minus-2 Sunday against the Caps. “That can’t be an excuse.”

Still, it is worth noting the Flyers were playing on back-to-back days, and they have had eight regulars who were on the COVID-19 protocol list — and most of them had the coronavirus and are still getting back into game shape.

The Capitals, who had a day off between games, knew the Flyers were in the midst of a schedule slightly more brutal than theirs and wanted to take advantage.

In a Flyers-dominated first period, “I think when we did get it into their zone, or at their blue line, [we were] trying to make too fancy of plays,” Capitals defenseman John Carlson said. “We know they were [playing] back-to-back games, and we know how that feels this year with the amount of games we play. I thought we were letting them off the hook too easy. We were letting them make quick work of our offensive-zone time, and when you get a team coming off a back-to-back, you’ve got to make them work for every inch.”

The Caps adjusted and controlled the second and third periods, and when they did have breakdowns, goalie Ilya Samsonov (36 saves) was superb.

“Once we stuck to that mindset of getting it in there and working them and letting it open ice for us instead of trying to make great plays off the bat, it really gave us more zone time” and made them a “more tired team,” Carlson said.

The Flyers should be more refreshed when the teams meet again Thursday and Saturday. Before that, they will face a Sabres team Tuesday that has a league-low 15 points and has lost seven straight for a coach, Ralph Krueger, who might be on his way out. Buffalo (6-14-3) is 1-3 against the Flyers this season, with all three of its losses shutouts.

In the last three meetings between the teams, the Flyers have 3-0 wins. That marked the first time in history the Flyers had three consecutive shutouts against a team in the same season.

In franchise history, they also shut out three other opponents three times in a season — Los Angeles in 1967-68, the Islanders in 1973-74, and Minnesota in 1974-75 — but it wasn’t done consecutively. Bernie Parent had eight of the nine shutouts against those teams, and Doug Favell had the other one, against Los Angeles.

The Flyers this week don’t necessarily need shutouts. They need their special teams to start clicking, to do a better job finishing golden scoring opportunities (see Sunday’s loss), and for the defensive breakdowns — by forwards and defensemen — to be reduced.

They also need their goalies to start outplaying their counterparts.

This is a pivotal week for the Flyers (27 points) — whose 56-game season will reach the halfway point after their coming six-games-in-10-days stretch — because they are suddenly chasing the Islanders (34), Capitals (32), Bruins (29), and Penguins (29).

Yes, they have games in hand on all of those teams except Boston, but that will mean little if they don’t correct the deficiencies shown during the latest compacted six-game span.