Unbeaten Flyers host winless Sabres

NHL Hockey

The Philadelphia Flyers will look for their third straight win to open the season when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.

The Flyers surged to two wins over the Pittsburgh Penguins by a combined score of 11-5.

But the task will be a bit more daunting with Sean Couturier out for a minimum of two weeks with a Costochondral separation. Couturier suffered the injury to his ribs less than two minutes into Friday’s 5-2 win.

“Injuries are part of the game,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. “Somebody else is going to step in like we did tonight. Somebody else is going to have to play well for us.”

Couturier has only missed two games in the last 235 played, so the Flyers will clearly be missing his leadership. Expect young players like Nolan Patrick and Morgan Frost to be rewarded with more ice time to fill the big void.

“He kind of brings that poise to the game and to his line and is real smart with the puck and he holds the puck really well,” Jakub Voracek, who had two assists Friday, said of Couturier. “That is one of the reasons why the game (on Friday) was so sloppy because we were missing Coots. So hopefully it won’t be long term.”

Goaltender Carter Hart made some big saves against the high-flying Penguins offense and did more than enough to help propel the Flyers to four points. It would be expected that Hart and backup Brian Elliott will split the next two games since the teams also meet on Tuesday.

“Every game is a divisional game, so it may be magnified a little bit more,” Hart said. “We’ve got to put this behind us and prepare for Monday.”

The Sabres are looking to avoid an 0-3 start after a pair of disappointing losses to the Washington Capitals.

Buffalo fell 6-4 in the season opener and 2-1 on Friday.

“We played free today,” Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said after Friday’s loss. “We beat them in pretty well every category except for the scoring. It was excellent to see the execution, extremely painful to see the final result. But what changed was we outskated them, we put pucks into places where we created footraces and they really struggled with that.

“We just ran into an extremely hot goaltender (Vitek Vanecek) at the other end.”

What has to be encouraging is the fact that the Sabres didn’t commit a penalty on Friday. What has to be discouraging is this: the Sabres went 0 for 5 on the power play.

The power play was a major issue for the Sabres most of last season.

“You’re going to have good games where you don’t win and maybe this was one of those for us tonight, but this game is about results,” forward Jeff Skinner said. “This league is about results. We need to get back at it, keep working and try to get a win next game.”

Skinner’s coach agreed.

“You can take a lot of confidence out of that game and hopefully the guys, they’re able to absorb this pain properly and continue with the process,” Krueger said.

–Field Level Media

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