A milestone for Vigneault, another shutout for Flyers and look who's coming back


Playing their best hockey of the season, the Flyers blanked Buffalo again Sunday at KeyBank Center.

For the third time this season, the Flyers delivered an identical 3-0 shutout of the Sabres.

The Flyers (11-4-3) have won three straight and own the top points percentage in the East Division at .694.

Head coach Alain Vigneault earned his 700th career win. In NHL history, he is one of nine coaches with 700 or more all-time victories.

The Flyers had 34 shots through the first two periods. They didn't have a great third period as Buffalo made its push, but the Flyers still secured the shutout. They've held the Sabres (6-10-3) to without a goal for nine straight periods.

• There were some reasonable concerns about the Flyers' start to the season simply because the team was seriously struggling to prevent shots a year after it allowed the NHL's fewest per game.

The Flyers are starting to find their identity and hard-on-the-attack system. They've outshot the opposition 116-78 in the last three games after being outshot in 13 of their first 15 games.

"We're hard to play against right now," Sean Couturier said. "That leads to our offense most of the time."

And they've got last year's All-Star coming back into the picture.

Following his 14-day quarantine, Travis Konecny was removed from the NHL's protocol list Sunday. Konecny, who last played Feb. 7, will likely rejoin the team on the ice for Tuesday's morning skate in Pittsburgh. His status for the game is to be determined.


• Carter Hart rebounded in a big way after allowing six goals in two periods to the Bruins in the 7-3 NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe loss last Sunday.

A day after Brian Elliott notched his 3-0 shutout, Hart delivered one of his own.

The 22-year-old was sharp with 28 saves and was strong in the third period, when Buffalo outshot the Flyers 9-4.

"Getting back to basics, compete more in practice and just having more fun, more fun at the rink," Hart said. "Away from the rink, staying connected to my family, talking with my support group and my support system.

"I think the biggest thing for me was just having more fun, finding a way to have more fun at the rink. This year has obviously been difficult for everybody with COVID and everything going on, the restrictions, not being allowed to see people and all of that.

"I think being able to find different ways to stay connected and have more fun, too, at the rink. Just hang out with the boys and share some laughs a little bit more, it makes it easier to come to the rink every day."

• The Sabres saw the return of Jack Eichel, who missed Saturday's game because of a lower-body injury.

Buffalo's 24-year-old star center has 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 15 career games against the Flyers but was held in check Sunday.

• The line of James van Riemsdyk, Couturier and Joel Farabee came together when the club returned from its mandated seven-day COVID-19 shutdown with a decimated roster.

The line has stuck together as the Flyers have gotten healthier because it has been the team's best unit.

"Playing with Coots and JVR, both of them together, they're probably two of the smarter guys I've ever played with," Farabee said Friday. "Reemer's got to be up there for smartest guys in the league. It's pretty easy for me to be able to play with them, they find the soft ice and stuff like that so well. Just try and find them, keep our legs moving — I think when we play fast together, we're pretty tough to stop."

On Sunday, the trio once again was cooking.

Farabee had two assists and is scoring at just under a point-per-game clip with 17 points (eight goals, nine assists) in 18 games. Van Riemsdyk had a multi-point game (one goal, one assist) and Couturier scored another goal.

JVR extended the Flyers' lead to 3-0 in the second period with a spectacular redirection. After needing 47 games to record 25 points in a pretty snakebitten 2019-20 season for van Riemsdyk, the 31-year-old winger has 25 points (10 goals, 15 assists) through 18 games this season.

For Couturier, since returning from a costochondral separation, the 2019-20 Frank J. Selke Trophy winner has gone on a six-game point streak (five goals, five assists). Couturier netted the game's first goal in the middle frame.

• Michael Raffl does a lot of the little things and he's an even bigger difference-maker when he's providing secondary goal-scoring.


Including the playoffs, the Flyers are 34-2-6 over the last five seasons when Raffl scores a goal.

He gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead in the middle stanza with a deflection past Jonas Johansson, who had to make 35 saves on 38 shots.

• Vigneault stayed true to his word about possibly rotating defensemen with the Flyers amid a stretch of six games in nine days.

After serving as a healthy scratch Saturday, Philippe Myers entered the lineup for Erik Gustafsson.

Myers was good as he played a physical and active game. He finished with an assist, four shots and a plus-1 rating.

The top pair of Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere continued to play well.

Plenty of healthy competition right now within the Flyers' group of blueliners.

• The Flyers' penalty kill entered the weekend 30th in the league at 70.2 percent but went 6 for 6 in the two-game sweep of Buffalo.

• The Flyers fly to Pittsburgh on Monday for three straight road games against the Penguins over Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP), Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and Saturday (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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