BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Flyers goalie Carter Hart was happy to put Lake Tahoe behind and get back indoors.
Hart stopped 28 shots and Philadelphia shut out the Buffalo Sabres on consecutive days following a 3-0 win on Sunday.
Following Brian Elliot’s 23-save shutout in a 3-0 win Saturday, Hart earned his second career shutout and bounced back from being yanked after allowing six goals on 23 shots through two periods in a 7-3 loss to the Boston Bruins last weekend.
“It was a little tough at first,” Hart said of adjusting to the glare of playing outdoors. “But it’s over. We’re past that now. The outdoor game’s over and done with.”
Hart said he spent the week simply focusing on getting back to basics, and trying to be more competitive in practice while engaging more with this teammates.
“I think the biggest thing for me was having more fun, and finding a way to have more fun at the rink,” he said.
Sean Couturier and Michael Raffl broke the game open by scoring 75 seconds apart early in the second period. James van Riemsdyk also scored in the second period by creatively tipping in Joel Farabee’s pass from the blue line, and the Flyers won their third straight following a 1-2-2 skid.
Flyers coach Alain Vigneault won his 700th career game and moved into a tie with Mike Babcock for eighth on the NHL list. Vigneault is in his second season with Philadelphia, and has an overall record of 700-460-108 and 35 ties over a 17-plus year career that included coaching Montreal, Vancouver and the New York Rangers.
“We got him the puck and gave it to him. He’s earned it,” Couturier said.
Sabres captain Jack Eichel’s return after missing two games with a lower-body injury failed to make a difference. Buffalo dropped to 2-7-1 in its past 10 and has gone 125:47 since Sam Reinhart scored a power-play goal late in a 4-3 overtime loss to New Jersey on Thursday.
“The guys have stuck together. No one’s turned on each other and it’s a positive mindset. It’s just currently not working for us,” Eichel said. “No one feels sorry for us in this league. We don’t feel sorry for ourselves. We just need to dig ourselves out of this and find a way to feel good about our game.”
Eichel, however, made a point to contradict coach Ralph Krueger’s description of the timing of his injury. Eichel said he was hurt in a 4-1 win at New Jersey on Tuesday and not, as Krueger had said, during pregame warmups before a 4-3 overtime loss to the Devils two days later.
Krueger responded by saying he was aware of Eichel getting hurt on Tuesday. He added the decision to scratch him after warmups on Thursday was after the coach said he was informed of an injury to another region he wasn’t previously made aware.
Rookie Jonas Johansson stopped 35 shots in his first start of the season and sixth of his career.
The Sabres were shut out for the fourth time this season, and third time by the Flyers, including a 3-0 loss at Philadelphia on Jan. 19.
The Sabres’ season-long offensive woes are reflected in how they rank last in the NHL in having scored just 21 goals in five-on-five situations. They also entered the day ranked 28th with 42 total goals. The Flyers, by comparison, have now scored 43 times while on five-on-five alone.
Hart’s best stop against Buffalo came 13 minutes into the second period, when he kicked out his left pad to stop Kyle Okposo attempting to convert Taylor Hall’s feed on a two-on-one break.
Couturier extended his point streak to six games (five goals and five assists) by opening the scoring 22 seconds into the second period. Johansson got his glove up to stop Farabee’s shot from the slot, but had no time to set himself before Couturier one-timed in the rebound from in close.
Raffl made it 2-0 shortly after winning a faceoff to the left of the Sabres net. Philippe Myers worked the puck back to Robert Hagg at the blue line, from where his shot was tipped in by Raffl in front.
Buffalo’s Curtis Lazar had Hart beat with a shot from the right circle that bounced off the lower lip of the crossbar and stayed out with 7:20 left in the first period. Some 2 1/2 minutes later, Flyers captain Claude Giroux wired a shot from the right circle off the far post.
SCRATCHES AND ADDITIONS
Flyers: D Erik Gustafsson was scratched in place of Myers, who returned after sitting out one game.
Sabres: In a desire to inject “fresh energy” into his blue line, coach Ralph Krueger sat Colin Miller and Jacob Bryson and replaced them with Matt Irwin and taxi-squad callup Brandon Davidson. Rookie C Dylan Cozens was a healthy scratch with Eichel returning to the lineup.
Flyers: Open three-game series at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.
Sabres: Open five-game road trip starting at the New York Rangers on Tuesday.
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