PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Sean Couturier scored the go-ahead goal in the second period and added an empty-netter to put it away and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Sunday for their third straight victory.
Couturier has four goals in two games and 42 points, three more than his previous career-best season.
Shayne Gostisbehere also scored, Ivan Provorov scored into an empty net and Jakub Vorack collected two more assists to give him an NHL-high 43.
Michal Neuvirth stopped 30 shots for the Flyers, who have climbed back into the playoff race a month after a 10-game losing streak.
Ryan O’Reilly scored and Robin Lehner made 25 saves for the Sabres, who finished a seven-game trip 1-4-2.
Couturier took a feed from Claude Giroux on the power play and scored from the left dot at 7:17 of the second period to snap a tie. Giroux, who entered third in the NHL in points, earned his 52nd.
Couturier’s empty-net goal with 1:15 left gave him a career-high 23 and made it 3-1. Provorov’s goal with 33 seconds left gave the Flyers 16 goals in three games.
It’s been quite a week for Couturier, who had a Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight) on Thursday and scored two goals in Saturday’s 6-3 win over St. Louis.
With most of Buffalo focused on the Bills’ first NFL playoff game in 18 years going on at the same time, the last-place Sabres took a 1-0 lead on O’Reilly’s power-play goal at 1:50 of the second period.
The Flyers tied it less than two minutes later on Gostisbehere’s wrist shot at the end of tic-tac-toe passing by Scott Laughton and Jori Lehtera.
In the final game before their NHL-mandated five-day break, the Flyers came out sluggish. Voracek and Wayne Simmonds each took penalties in the first 4:37, but Neuvirth kept it scoreless by robbing Sam Reinhart with a glove save on the second power play.
Lehner made his own claim for save of the day, robbing Simmonds with his left arm to keep it 2-1 in the second period.
Lehner crumpled to the ice after taking Robert Hagg’s hard shot off what appeared to be his left collarbone early in third period. He was treated and stayed in the game.
Neuvirth was sharp in his first start since Nov. 28, when he was injured. He remained on the bench except for one period since being activated off injured reserve Dec. 26. Brian Elliott started the previous 16 games.
NOTES: The Flyers return to practice Friday. … The Sabres have been away since Dec. 22 while their arena hosted the world junior hockey championship. … F Benoit Pouliot, a healthy scratch for the first time Friday, returned to the Sabres’ fourth line ahead of Jordan Nolan. … Flyers F Tyrell Goulbourne missed much of the second period with a skate issue. … Flyers D Travis Sanheim was a healthy scratch for a fifth straight game.
Sabres: Home on Tuesday vs. Winnipeg.
Flyers: Saturday at New Jersey.
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