Flyers force Game 7 with come-from-behind OT win

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Flyers force Game 7 with come-from-behind OT win

Sunday, April 24, 2011
Posted: 6:27 p.m. Updated: 8:33 p.m.
By Tim PanaccioCSNPhilly.com

BOX SCORE

BUFFALO, N.Y. Danny Briere was at his locker upset between periods when he popped off.

The Flyers had battled back from Michael Leightons horrific start to make it a 4-3 hockey game going into the third period.

It was good to get him up, coach Peter Laviolette said. He was fired up. He said he wasnt ready for it to end. Its not time. People listened to that. And then he backs it up with the way he plays.

Briere and his mates backed it up. Then again, thats the thing about the Flyers. Their resiliency to never quit.

Do you believe in Game 7 redemption? Can you forgive coach Laviolette for making your Easter Sunday miserable with his choice to start Leighton in Game 6 of this Eastern Conference quarterfinals series with the Buffalo Sabres?

If you answered yes to both questions, then show up Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center for Game 7.

Ville Leinos rebound goal at 4:43 of overtime capped a furious comeback at HSBC Arena as the Flyers stunned the Sabres, 5-4, to even the series at three wins apiece.

Nothing daunts these guys; its just like last year, said club chairman Ed Snider. You can never count these guys out. Ive never seen guys like this.

A funny thing about Leino: Near the end of regulation, he fell down on Brieres pass at the net on an odd-man rush.

On that shift, I made a dangerous play out there and I wanted to make up for it in overtime, Leino said. When you miss a goal or opportunity, you want to give back something for the team. I got a good bounce there.

Mike Richards was going to the bench as the Flyers had a 4-on-3 rush that began the overtime winner.

Kris Versteeg made a good play to hold onto the puck and I just threw it at the net, Richards said. It was nice to get a lucky bounce. It went off my stick to Ville for a backdoor.

Scott Hartnells goal a little past the midway point of the third period made it 4-4. That set up the overtime.

Now, Laviolettes decision to start Leighton was easily the worst miscalculation he has made as a head coach in almost two years here. Leighton played one NHL game this season and despite the 20 saves in Game 5, he didnt look that good, leaving shots in harms way.

He unraveled in this game, yielding three goals on seven shots, including two to Thomas Vanek that put the Flyers in a 3-1 hole after one period.

The way he looked when he came up in practice, he looked good, Laviolette said of Leighton. We had him on the bench, he came in here Game 5 in a relief opportunity and continued to look good. Decisions are tough. It didnt go that way tonight for him. I still think Michael Leighton is a heck of a goaltender.

Leighton got lucky, too. Steve Montador banged one off the post that first period and when the play came back up ice, Briere cut a 2-0 deficit in half with the first of two goals.

Briere also had a power-play goal in the third period, making it 3-3.

Was this drama? Briere asked. I think I lost a couple years of my life in the game with the ups and downs and rollercoaster rides. Im getting a little old for my heart to take that kind of emotion.

That awful first period ended with the Flyers going from a 5-on-3 power play to giving Buffalo a 4-on-3 in which Vaneks second goal chased Leighton for Brian Boucher when Leighton failed to cover up at the right post.

In between that, Chris Pronger, a surprise entry working only power plays (4:33 ice time), went to the box, ruining one Flyer power play.

Boucher was outstanding off the bench with 24 saves.

I cant say enough about him, Laviolette said of Boucher. A guy who wants to start and doesnt get it. Theres a reason why he went on the bench. Because of what happened tonight where we needed someone to come off and close the door. Hes done it so many times.

He had an opportunity to come in and help his team live for another day. And he was tremendous.

Boucher was happy.

The job isnt done, he said. We want to win this series. That would be the icing on the cake, to get into the next round.

Laviolette said Boucher would start Game 7.

Fourty-nine seconds after Boucher came in to start the second period, James van Riemsdyk brought the Flyers to within one with his third goal of the series through Ryan Millers five-hole from the slot.

Brieres second goal of the game and fifth of the series on the power play tied it, 3-3, at 8:43. He is second in the league in playoff goals since the lockout with 38. Detroits Henrik Zetterberg is first (43).

Briere also has 92 points in 91 playoff games.

He was tremendous on the ice, Laviolette said of his centerman. Theres no question, you look at his playoff career, theres a reason why he averages over a point a game. Hes a big-time player.

That second period ended with the Flyers getting a marvelous 1:10 kill of a 5-on-3 Sabres power play where Boucher made four, tough saves only to give up an even strength goal to Nathan Gerbe, as Buffalo led 4-3 going into the third period.

That sparked Brieres speech.

I cant remember what it was I was a little too fired up, maybe, Briere said with a laugh.

The mood then was better than after the first period, Briere said. Weve been through that kind of adversity before. It felt better than having to come back 3-1. That was a big mountain for us to climb.

When it was 4-3, you know you can score goals on Miller. I felt the atmosphere was all right after the second period, and wed come back, and that Boosh would make the necessary stops.

Buffalos two-man advantage that second period could have been worse because Richards drilled Tim Connolly, who has a history of concussions, from behind into the glass for a two-minute boarding call that deserved five minutes.

In Game 4 here, Richards elbowed Patrick Kaleta and got a five-minute major on what should be have a minor. Afterward, Richards accused the Sabres of getting away with murder on the ice.

Miller, reacting to Richards hit on Connolly, thinks Richards should be suspended for Game 7.

Id like to add one thing, Miller said. If Mike Richards thinks were getting away with murder, I dont know what he just got away with. Mass murder? Are we stepping up a notch? Unbelievable.

We lost a player for the rest of the game. Thats the kind of hit the league has been talking about is dangerous. They better seriously consider looking at that one. Its unbelievable.

Richards offered a no comment.

So now its onto Game 7 in South Philly.

Its draining coming back from two goals or three goals in the National Hockey League is not an easy thing to do, Laviolette said. Its a difficult thing to do. Most of the time, you cave. And when you on have to do it back to back, it becomes extraordinary.

I cant tell you how impressed I am with the resiliency. Not just today but because we had to do it two games in a row. And we almost did it Game 5. Today, it went our way.

Whose way will it go on Tuesday?

E-mail Tim Panaccio at tpanotch@comcast.net

Related: Boucher's relief appearance earns Game 7 start Buy Flyers gear

End to End: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?

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End to End: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?

Each week, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End this week are Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone, all producers/reporters for CSNPhilly.com.

The question: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?

Dougherty
What Shayne Gostisbehere accomplished in his rookie season was unforgettable. He set Flyers records, broke some NHL rookie records and finished with 17 goals in 64 games.

The list can go on and on. He can become the first Flyer to win the Calder Trophy when the NHL Awards are announced on June 22. We all want to see what "Ghost" can do as an encore.

But now Gostisbehere has expectations. Lofty expectations — fair or not.

Gostisbehere will be expected to quarterback the power play, a job he excelled at this season and wrangled away from Mark Streit, whose injury paved the way for his call-up.

In addition, Gostisbehere will be asked to produce offensively and consistently as well as continue to hone his defensive game, which still has areas that needs improvement.

Seventeen goals will be difficult to duplicate and we should not hold him to — or expect — that number again in his sophomore season. We should all temper our expectations.

But the reason I believe Gostisbehere has the most to lose in 2016-17 is because he's very much still a growing product. There will be growing pains and should he hit those next season, how will he bounce back from it? Defensemen generally develop at a slower pace than forwards, and for Gostisbehere to enjoy so much success in Year 1, how will he react to a step backward in 2016-17? It's a weighted response and one that's geared more toward the long-term, but to me, Gostisbehere has the most to lose next season.

Hall
I believe Matt Read will be back next season.
 
After all, he’s under contract through the 2017-18 campaign.
 
But his leash will be as short as it’s even been. At 30 years old, he’ll be fighting just to dress. And when he gets playing time, he’ll have to do enough to show he deserves it over other candidates, many of which will be young, spry and hungry for jobs.
 
Read said he learned a lot last season.
 
Will he make adjustments and carve out a role in Dave Hakstol’s system?
 
Next season, we’ll get an answer.
 
If he doesn’t, his time in Philadelphia could quickly dissolve.
 
And who knows what that would mean for his NHL career.

Paone
Want to talk about having something to lose? How about possibly losing a job, which is a very real possibility for Scott Laughton next season.

The young forward, who will turn 22 on Monday, posted seven goals and 14 assists in a career-high 71 games this season. But much more telling was the fact he found himself in the press box as a healthy scratch down the stretch, as Dave Hakstol felt there were better options as the team completed its improbable run to the playoffs. And that came after he was moved from his natural center position to the wing for the first time since he represented Canada in the world junior tournament.

His inconsistency has come a pretty bad time because as more and more talented prospects come through the system, roster spots with the big club become more and more precious. Laughton will need to have a very good summer and training camp to earn his spot again. The forward prospects will push him during camp, which could be a good thing. But even if Laughton makes the Flyers out of camp when the season starts, the leash could still be short. 

Ron Hextall makes no bones about how he prefers to hold on to young talent and let it develop. But we could be at the point where the Flyers want to see Laughton take the next step. And it could be a much different story if you replace young talent with young talent.

Stanley Cup: Offseason moves send Sharks to final after missing playoffs

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Stanley Cup: Offseason moves send Sharks to final after missing playoffs

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- After watching the San Jose Sharks miss the playoffs for the first time in more than a decade, general manager Doug Wilson set out to remake the team last offseason.

Individually, none of the moves sent shockwaves through the NHL. The Sharks hired a coach who made the playoffs once in seven seasons as an NHL coach, traded a first-round pick for a goalie who had been a backup his entire career, added two playoff-tested veterans for depth at forward and defense and signed an unheralded Finnish rookie.

Together, the additions of Peter DeBoer, Martin Jones, Joel Ward, Paul Martin and Joonas Donskoi to a solid core that had underachieved proved to be the right mix to get the Sharks to their long-awaited first Stanley Cup Final appearance.

"I thought this team has a lot of the pieces of that puzzle," Martin said. "Doug did a great job bringing guys in that he did, to make that push for it. I don't think many people would have guessed that we'd be here right now, but I think we believed."

The players all said the disappointment of blowing a 3-0 series lead to Los Angeles in 2014 and then missing the playoffs entirely last season served as fuel for this season's success.

DeBoer also credited former coach Todd McLellan for helping put the foundation in place that he was able to capitalize on. The Sharks became the second team in the past 10 seasons to make it to the final after missing the playoffs the previous season, joining the 2011-12 Devils that pulled off the same trick in DeBoer's first season in New Jersey.

"Everyone was ready for something a little bit fresher and newer, not anything that much different," DeBoer said. "The additions that Doug made, it just came together. I inherited a similar team in New Jersey when I went in there. First time they missed the playoffs for a long time the year before I got there. I think when you go into that situation, when you have really good people like there was in New Jersey when I went in there, like I was with this group ... they're embarrassed by the year they just had, and they're willing to do and buy into whatever you're selling to get it fixed again. I think I was the benefactor of that."

The transition from McLellan to DeBoer wasn't seamless. As late as Jan. 8, the Sharks were in 13th place in the 14-team Western Conference and seemingly on the way to another missed postseason.

But with Logan Couture finally healthy after being slowed by a broken leg early in the season and the move by DeBoer to put Tomas Hertl on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, the Sharks rolled after that and made the playoffs as the third-place team in the Pacific Division.

In-season additions of players like depth forwards Dainius Zubrus and Nick Spaling, physical defenseman Roman Polak and backup goaltender James Reimer helped put the Sharks in the position they are now.

"With the new coaching staff we needed to realize how we needed to play to win," Thornton said. "Once that clicked, and that probably clicked maybe early December, I think after that, we just exploded. I think that's really when we saw the depth of this team. Everybody plays a big part."

That has been especially true in the playoffs when longtime core players like Thornton, Couture, Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau got the support that had often been lacking during past postseason disappointments.

Jones has posted three shutouts in the playoffs, including the Game 7 second-round clincher against Nashville and back-to-back games in the conference final against St. Louis. He has proven more than capable of being an NHL starter after serving an apprenticeship as Jonathan Quick's backup in Los Angeles.

Ward scored two goals in each of the final two games of the conference final and has 11 points this postseason. Donskoi exceeded expectations just to make the team as a rookie and has solidified his spot on the second line with five goals and nine points.

Martin's steady play has allowed offensive-minded defenseman Brent Burns to roam at times and given San Jose a strong second defensive pair that had been missing in previous seasons.

Zubrus and Spaling played a big role as penalty killers and on the fourth line, while Polak has been one of the team's most physical players.

"Doug did a great job this summer, this season," Couture said. "A lot of credit needs to go to him for the guys he brought in."

Flyers defensive prospect Ivan Provorov named CHL Defenseman of the Year

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Flyers defensive prospect Ivan Provorov named CHL Defenseman of the Year

Flyers prospect and Brandon Wheat Kings defenseman Ivan Provorov on Saturday afternoon was named the 2015-16 Canadian Hockey League's Defenseman of the Year.

Provorov, who the Flyers drafted with the seventh overall pick in 2015, recorded 21 markers, 73 points and was a plus-64 in 62 games with Brandon during the regular season.

The 19-year-old beat out Windsor's Mikhail Sergachev and Shawinigan's Samuel Girard for the honor. Both Sergachev and Girard are eligible for this year's draft, which is June 24-25 in Buffalo, New York.

In 21 playoff games with the Wheat Kings, Provorov added three goals and 10 assists. Brandon beat the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL Championship Series to capture the Ed Chynoweth Cup. However, in the Memorial Cup, Brandon lost to the Red Deer Rebels on May 25.

What's next for Provorov?

The defenseman will come to Flyers training camp in September with his eye on making the roster. Many believe Provorov is ready to make the jump to the NHL, but Flyers general manager Ron Hextall has built a reputation of being patient, especially with his defensive prospects.

Provorov is one of five prospects in the Flyers' system that has created excitement, joining Travis Sanheim, Samuel Morin, Robert Hagg and Philippe Myers, an undrafted free-agent signing who made noise this season. Could Provorov — or any of the other prospects — join Shayne Gostisbehere on the Flyers' blue line in 2016-17?

After the Flyers' season ended with a playoff series loss to the Washington Capitals, Hextall hinted he'll continue to be patient with his prospects (see story).

“What we're building towards remains the same,” Hextall said after the season. “I'm not an impatient guy by nature. Maybe I was a little bit on the ice, but I've been off the ice for 17 years or whatever it is, so the whole thing that we started to build two years ago — our vision is the same and we're on a path.

“And we're a lot closer than we were two years ago."

But all eyes will be on Provorov come training camp. Can he force Hextall's hand?