FLYERS OUTLAST COVID PROTOCOL, BLANK THE SABRES!

By Jenny Masters

Brian Elliott stopped 23 shots and the visiting Flyers blanked the Buffalo Sabres 3-0.

Four Flyers returned after spending two weeks in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol, including Scott Laughton, who scored a breakaway goal to make it 3-0 late in the second period.

Sean Couturier had a goal and assist to extend his points streak to five games, in which he has four goals and five assists, and Shayne Gostisbehere also scored.

The Flyers are 3-2-2 in their last seven games, and won consecutive games for the first time since a five-game winning streak to close January.

Elliott improved to 5-1 this season and upped his career record to 15-2-2 with four shutouts against the Sabres, including a 40-save outing in a 3-0 win on Jan. 19.

The Sabres dropped to 2-6-1 in their past nine and played their second game without captain Jack Eichel, listed as day to day with a lower body injury.

Carter Hutton stopped 36 shots starting in place of Linus Ullmark, who will miss at least a month with a lower-body injury sustained in the first period of a 4-3 overtime loss to New Jersey on Thursday.

Jeff Skinner’s return to the lineup following a three-game benching didn’t make a difference. The 11th-year forward in the second season of an eight-year, $72 million contract has just one assist in 15 games this season, and now hasn’t scored in 19 games dating to last year.

Couturier opened the scoring 14:22 in after teammate Travis Sanheim intercepted Henri Jokiharju’s clearing attempt up the right boards. Sanheim stepped toward the middle and fed Couturier in the high slot from where his shot glanced off the glove of defender Brandon Montour and knuckled in over Hutton’s left shoulder.

The Flyers then put the game on ice late in the second period when Gostisbehere, on a partial break up the left wing, and Laughton scored 4:21 apart.

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