With 4 players back in the picture, Flyers starting to pitch some complete games


As the Flyers start to look more complete again from a personnel standpoint, they're starting to piece together some complete games, the kind of efforts that spearheaded the team's run last regular season.

With four players back in the lineup, the Flyers thoroughly outplayed the Sabres to earn a 3-0 win Saturday afternoon at KeyBank Center.

The Flyers (10-4-3) have claimed at least one point in three of the four games (2-1-1) back from their seven-day COVID-19 pause, which had the roster pretty decimated when the club returned.

The Jack Eichel-less Sabres (6-9-3) were outshot by the Flyers 39-23. Buffalo's 24-year-old star center missed the game because of a lower-body injury.

The Flyers have put up a season-high 39 shots in back-to-back games. The Rangers didn't have Artemi Panarin Wednesday and the Sabres were missing their best player Saturday, but the Flyers' process has taken good strides.

• Jakub Voracek, Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom and Justin Braun all rejoined the Flyers' lineup following long stints on the NHL's COVID protocol list. They missed the Flyers' first three games back following the team's mandated COVID-19 shutdown. Prior to Saturday, all four had not played a game in close to three weeks.

Their returns were huge.

Voracek, Laughton and Lindblom played on the same line and produced a backbreaking type of goal with just 1:06 left in the second period. Voracek started the sequence with an outlet feed to Lindblom, who zipped a perfect pass to spring Laughton for the 3-0 goal.

Both Laughton and Lindblom had skated only once in 18 days before playing this game. Voracek had skated only twice.

Laughton has become such a valuable forward who can play up and down the Flyers' lineup. Over the last two seasons, the 26-year-old has 18 goals, 19 assists and a plus-20 rating in 63 games. In that span, he's fourth on the Flyers in even strength goals (18).

• Brian Elliott continued to have his way with Buffalo.

The 35-year-old veteran entered 14-2-2 with a 1.78 goals-against average and .941 save percentage lifetime against the Sabres. He pushed the win total to 15, his most victories against any NHL team.

Elliott has shut out Buffalo twice this season and has won five of his six starts so far in 2020-21. He has been one of the Flyers' most important players.

Sabres goalie Carter Hutton converted 36 saves on 39 shots.

• The Flyers' defense as a whole played one of its best games of the season. The team's blueliners had five goals over the first 15 games; they have three over the last two outings.

Braun played his effective game of taking the body and quelling plays. He was a plus-2 in 21-plus minutes.

More: Braun lives up to 'unleash the Brauner' hype by Flyers

Travis Sanheim made a heady and skilled play to set up Sean Couturier's game-opening goal.

Ivan Provorov blocked a pair of shots and played 24:57.

And Shayne Gostisbehere scored his second goal in as many games. Gostisbehere looks fueled with that playmaking confidence of his as he has three points (two goals, one assist) and 12 shots in the last two games.

Head coach Alain Vigneault made an interesting move on the blue line by sitting Philippe Myers. The 24-year-old is one of the club's better, more versatile blueliners. The Flyers started a busy stretch of six games in nine days and Vigneault said he might rotate some players on the back end and up front.

Still, Myers is becoming a guy who should probably play every day unless his performance is severely lacking. Don't expect him to sit for long.

• Since returning from a costochondral separation that sidelined him for 10 games, Couturier has nine points (four goals, five assists) in five games. Ho-hum for the team's do-it-all center.

• Claude Giroux played his 904th career game, putting him in sole possession of second place on the organization's all-time games played list. He passed Bill Barber and now trails only Bob Clarke (1,144).

• Travis Konecny remains on the COVID protocol list, going back to Feb. 14.

• The Flyers and Sabres are right back at it Sunday afternoon in Buffalo (3 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

The Flyers are 2-0-0 in the second game of back-to-back sets, while the Sabres are 1-4-0 in such games.

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