Flyers rally in third to knock off Sabres

Flyers rally in third to knock off Sabres
April 6, 2012, 1:27 am

You knew the Flyers were headed for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs.

And its gonna happen.

Matt Reads goal late in the third period broke a 1-1 tie at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night as the Flyers defeated the Buffalo Sabres, 2-1.

Coupled with Pittsburghs victory over the New York Rangers, this cements the Pens as the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference with the Flyers finishing 5th.

Game 1 of the Pens-Flyers quarterfinal series is tentatively set for Wednesday, April 11 in Pittsburgh.

Read took a brilliant stretch pass from Jakub Voracek up the left boards and maneuvered quickly Sabres defenseman Robyn Regehr for a free pass on goalie Ryan Miller.

It was Reads 24th goal of the season tops among all NHL rookies.

Buffalo had the slimmest of leads 1-0 until the 6:05 mark of that final period when Andreas Lilja gave Marc-Andre Bourdon a pass in the right circle.

The rookie defenseman wound and nailed a hard slapper past Miller for his fourth goal as a Flyer.

For all the talk by both the Flyers players themselves and coach Peter Laviolette about coming out with some jam in the first period ... well, it was as if the Flyers were on a sleep aid.

They looked more or less lethargic. Truth is, the Sabres, who were supposed to be fighting for their playoff lives werent much better with just three shots.

The Flyers had one power play in the period and got just one shot on Miller.

It wasnt until the periods final minutes that someone grabbed the Flyers attention when Cody Hodgson roughed up Claude Giroux, incensing the entire line on the ice, including mild-mannered Jaromir Jagr.

The Flyers had nine shots, but their best scoring chance came shorthanded in the final 2:05 as Miller broke up his breakaway.

Miller, incidentally, is the main reason why the Sabres were even in a position to challenge for a playoff berth in the second half of the season.

Coming into play, since the All-Star Game, he was 19-5-5 and 8-2-2 in his last 12 starts.

Jody Shelley, playing in just his ninth game since February began, led the Flyers near the end of the second period with three shots.

One of those was his own rebound on Miller early in the period that slid across the goal crease and nearly went into the net for his first goal of the season.

It didnt because Sabres defenseman Andrej Sekera cleared it on the line. That line with Shelley, Eric Wellwood and Zac Rinaldo had two scoring chances.

Right after them, Brayden Schenn shot wide of an open net too.

Leave the Sabres to hang around and they will burn you.

And they did. Ex-Flyer Ville Leino scored at 17:26 on a crease rebound on Ilya Bryzgalov amid boos from the crowd.

And just like that, the possibility of the Flyers dropping to sixth and meeting the Florida Panthers became a reality.

(more coming...)

E-mail Tim Panaccio at tpanotch@comcast.net

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