Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Posted: 10:20 p.m. Updated: April 27, 12:25 a.m.
By Tim Panaccio
They had peppered Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller every which way but loose and were outshooting the Sabres, 15-2.
Still, the Flyers had nothing to show for it.
And then A faceoff win by Danny Briere, a shot from Braydon Coburn that nicks Mike Grier, and the Flyers get a goal with just 19 seconds left in the first period.
That was huge, Chris Pronger said. You look at the scoreboard and the shots and I think they were 15-2 and for us to at least walk away with lead. We had a number of great chances
We were able to get a bounce there. You feel a lot better than your would knowing you dominated play, dominated a period and it was 0-0.
Instead, the Flyers went into the dressing room feeling good about themselves and their chances in Tuesdays Game 7.
When they re-emerged, they would score two more times in the second period en route to a 5-2 rout of the Sabres that wrapped up this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series at Wells Fargo Center.
Now the wait begins to see whether its Boston, Pittsburgh or Tampa Bay in the second round.
The Flyers played back-to-back elimination games against Buffalo and won them both to come back from a 3-2 series deficit.
Thats true grit. In the end, Brian Boucher got four wins while Miller got yanked. How ironic?
The key moment in this game occurred at the start of the second period when Boucher had a series of tough stops with the Flyers clutching that 1-0 lead and defending on the penalty kill.
That brilliant kill, coupled with Bouchers saves, gave the Flyers momentum, which they turned into goals to blow the game open.
We threw everything we could at the net and wanted to come out and have a good start, said team captain Mike Richards.
With the playoff experience we gained throughout, including last year, that was going to be huge tonight and it was. We jumped on them early and got some confidence, played with confidence and got some big-time goals.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff yanked Miller 1:59 into the final period when Ville Leino torched him with a slapper from the left circle over the shoulder that made it 4-0.
We finally beat him a couple times, he was so awesome, Leino said. It felt good.
Miller Time had ended -- along with the mystique that the Flyers werent good enough beat him with their three-goalie hydra monster.
Boucher lost his shutout at 6:33 when Tyler Myers just got a puck over his outstretched glove hand off the rush, but that doesnt matter.
He saved the Flyers in the series.
He was great, Claude Giroux said. He shut down the door for us, and thats what we needed. He was of the best players tonight for sure.
The first period was the kind the Flyers needed to establish their Game 7 rights. It was played almost entirely in the Sabres end with Miller making save after save.
Prepping for an offensive faceoff with 23 seconds left in the stanza, coach Peter Laviolette put Giroux out there with Briere just in case one of them got thrown out of the circle. He wanted a second right-hand shot.
Sure enough, Giroux got tossed and Briere took the draw.
He was really good on faceoffs to the point we started using him in the defensive zone, Laviolette said. He seemed to be in a groove out there. The goal at the end of the first period, he goes in there, wins a draw.
That, to me, was a big one because we were really pressing that period. To come out with zero, its not that we played poorly or you couldnt take confidence out it. Again, its about the scoreboard. To get that one goal was a real big boost to us going into the locker room.
Briere won it cleanly over Paul Gaustad back to the right point for Coburn. He skated in and fired off Grier for the goal.
I just tried to get to the middle and put it on net, Coburn said. Luckily, it went in.
After the goal, Briere skated behind Miller and patted him on the helmet.
That was a little excitement, overjoy after that goal, Briere laughed.
Brieres impact in the series, outside of goal production he had six also includes faceoffs. After winning a draw, he rebounded a Richards shot that never reached the net during a power play early in the second period to make it 2-0.
On both Flyer goals, Briere beat the Sabres best defensive draw, Gaustad, on the faceoff, then went to the net. Miller was looking the opposite way when Richards deflection came to Brieres stick for an open tap-in at the left post at 4:48.
Its tough, yes and no, you win some and you lose some; I work hard on them, Gaustad said. They made some good plays, they have some good centermen. They have a great team and we fought with them the entire series. You have to give them credit for winning; it was a battle.
Briere said most times he doesnt win draws on Gaustad.
The Flyers would get two power-play goals in this one, giving them five for the series.
I dont know that it bailed us out, but we were due, said Pronger, who had an impact in this game from the point. Obviously, we got one-and-a-half in Buffalo, Scott Hartnells tying goal there was just after their penalty expired.
So, well count it as two last games and two tonight. We were going to need it early. We wanted to get up and get a lead, and make them come from behind.
James van Riemsdyk pretty much sealed Buffalos fate with his fourth goal of the series on the power play at 10:19 as the Flyers very carefully passed the puck around their high umbrella with Pronger and Richards. Giroux got the puck last, measured and wristed one that JVR tipped.
Yeah we had a lot of different guys step up, guys like Danny Briere, JVR said. It seems like every time the game gets bigger he plays better. Hes been unbelievable for us all year.
Boosh played unbelievable, and the defense did a great job. Everyone did their job out there tonight and thats good to see.
Boucher exhaled when it was over.
It was a crazy series, no way about it, Boucher said. It was just nice to win. You play at home in Game 7 and you want to win in front of your home crowd and when you do that, it feels really nice.
We will take a little breather here and get ready for the next series. I dont know who it will be, but its just nice to get past this first round.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at email@example.com
Related: Flyers' power play clicks at just the right time Flyers notes: Briere comes up big on faceoffs