PHILADELPHIA — The NHL's weakest offense was at it again here Sunday.
The Buffalo Sabres had 31 shots on goal but struggled to beat Philadelphia backup and former Sabre Michal Neuvirth in dropping a 4-1 decision to the Flyers in Wells Fargo Center.
Sean Couturier scored two goals, including an empty-netter with 1:15 left, as the Flyers handed Buffalo its third-straight regulation loss. Ivan Provorov also scored an empty-netter with 32 seconds left to close the scoring. The Sabres are 0-3-1 in their last four games.
The Sabres went 0-3 on this portion of their seven-game sojourn outside of KeyBank Center, as they also lost in Minnesota and Winnipeg after spending a day at home following Monday's Winter Classic in New York.
Overall, Buffalo went 1-4-2 in the seven-game stretch — just the fourth time in franchise history it has played that many consecutive games out of town. The overtime loss to the Rangers in Citi Field, however, is counted as a home game because the Rangers' tax agreement with New York City does not allow them to play home games outside Madison Square Garden.
Building momentum: The teams played a scoreless first period, but Buffalo had a 12-5 advantage in shots, including the first six of the game as the Sabres had two power plays in the first four minutes.
Glove love: Neuvirth kept the game scoreless with the save of the period, snaring Sam Reinhart's one-timer with his glove on the second Buffalo power play.
Breaking through: The Sabres got another power play at 1:27 of the second period on Andy MacDonald's hooking penalty and capitalized this time on Ryan O'Reilly's 10th goal of the season at 1:50. Working out of the corner, Jack Eichel fed O'Reilly in the left circle and O'Reilly whizzed a quick slapshot over Neuvirth's right shoulder. It was O'Reilly's team-high fifth power-play goal of the season.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) January 7, 2018
Short-lived lead: Less than two minutes later, at 3:42 of the second, the Flyers pulled even on defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere's ninth goal of the season. As the trailer on a rush, Gostisbehere beat Lehner with a snapshot after some struggles in the neutral zone by Evan Rodrigues left defenseman Jake McCAbe caught up on the play.
Quick power play: While it took the Sabres 23 seconds to score with the man advantage, it took the Flyers just 21 seconds to capitalize on Scott Wilson's holding penalty and take a 2-1 lead. Wilson was gone at 6:56 of the second and Couturier scored his team-high 22nd of the season at 7:17, one-timing home a Claude Giroux pass from behind the net.
WHO YA GONNA CALL?
— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) January 7, 2018
Piling the points: Jakub Voracek also assisted on the Couturier goal, earning his NHL-high 42nd assist and 50th point of the season. Voracek has just eight goals.
Damage tab, stat sheet edition: Lehner stopped 16 of 18 shots in the second period and kept the game even closer with a spectacular glove save on Wayne Simmonds. Moving to his left, Lehner speared Simmonds' shot with his glove on the tail end of a 2-on-1 break, preventing what looked like an easy tap-in goal.
Damage tab, body edition: Lehner was stunned and stayed down for a few seconds after taking a Robert Hagg slapshot up high to the collarbone area and the puck then grazed the side of his head. The crowd responded with an audible groan when the painful-looking replay was shown on the jumbotron a few seconds later.
Life perspective: The house lights were turned completely black along with the scoreboard as the Flyers held a pregame moment of silence for city firefighter Matthew LeTourneau, who lost his life Saturday battling a blaze in a North Philadelphia rowhouse. "Today is for you, Matthew," tweeted the Flyers, who said LeTourneau, 42, was at the team's recent First Responders Night.
Today we remember Philadelphia Fire Fighter Matthew LeTourneau, who lost his life yesterday battling a blaze in North Philadelphia. He recently joined us for first responders night. Today is for you, Matthew.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) January 7, 2018
Up next: The Sabres fly home after the game and will practice Monday in KeyBank Center. They host Winnipeg on Tuesday night in their first game downtown since Dec. 22, and Columbus is in town on Thursday.