Flyers-Sabres Game 4: Homewreck.

Flyers-Sabres Game 4: Homewreck.

The Flyers will take the HSBC Arena ice tonight with a chance to send the Buffalo Sabres fans home for the last time this season. Win, and the Flyers will need just one more in Philadelphia to eliminate the Sabres and advance on home ice this Friday. Ya know what though... Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Winning the next two—and four straight in the series—is a tall order.

Coming off a pair of wins, the momentum is clearly in the Flyers' favor. However, each of the games in this series has been decided by a single goal, aside from the empty netter Kimmo Timonen added in the waning seconds of game 3. As much as we may like what we see, there's still plenty of hockey left in this series, with room for the pendulum to swing in either direction.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't be pretty amped up for the things the Flyers are doing right.

I left out above that on their way to this narrowest of series leads, Peter Laviolette had to make a change in net. The concerns that Sergei Bobrovsky wasn't playoff-ready surfaced quickly in game 2, and Lavvy got out the hook. Bob may or may not be plenty able to backstop this team in the postseason, but it doesn't really matter at the moment, because Lavvy knew Brian Boucher likely was, and Boosh hasn't given him any reason to second guess the decision. So far, he has outdueled Ryan Miller, who allowed eight goals in his last two starts after posting a shutout in the opener.

One of the key questions coming into the series was whether the Flyers could snap their cold streak, and with it the hot streak of the Sabres. Prior to their meeting at the end of the season, they'd been able to beat Miller fairly efficiently. The opening game shutout gave us good reason to wonder whether they still could, but at the moment, the Flyers appear to have regained their ability to solve the American Hero. 

They'll need to continue to create traffic in front him, disrupt his crease chi, and if there's no traffic, shoot while skating rather than stationary. Going hard at the net has produced some great results whether carrying the puck or waiting for the pass.

Of course, the Sabres will probably be trying to do the same thing to Boucher. This is hockey, not advanced military engagement. Game strategies get to sounding cliché and obvious because in a lot of ways they are. Good coaches and teams just find a way to stop what they know is coming, to do what they kno—sorry, I'm lapsing into platitudes again. Anyway, the Sabres have a lot of speed, keeping the Flyers' defense relatively honest (although the blueliners haven't been to shy about joining the rush either). We're not nearly out of the woods yet.

It's also around this point in the series when we might expect things to get a little ugly, particularly if the Flyers get an early lead. Patrick Kaleta is probably more than a little pissed after Braydon Coburn picked him pretty hard to prevent him from hitting Kimmo Timonen. Kaleta missed the rest of game 3 but is expected to play tonight (and be an ass). The Buffalo crowd was pretty amped up on Monday, and with their own playoff lives on the line tonight, I assume we'll hear them plenty throughout. Hopefully the "Booo-shaaaay" just turns to boos by about the midway point.

So enjoy the swing game tonight. Win and the series is on a home-served platter this Friday. Lose and you're back even. Interestingly (or not), the Sabres have never won a series that they've trailed by a 2-1 count.

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

Best of NBA: Rockets overcome Russell Westbrook's 7th straight triple-double

OKLAHOMA CITY -- James Harden scored 21 points, and the Houston Rockets overcame Russell Westbrook's seventh consecutive triple-double to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 102-99 on Friday night.

Harden also had 12 assists and nine rebounds to help the Rockets win their fifth straight. Houston withstood Harden's 6-for-23 shooting effort.

Westbrook finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He has the longest triple-double streak since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989. The most in a row is nine by Philadelphia's Wilt Chamberlain in March 1968.

It was Westbrook's 12th triple-double this season and the 49th of his career. He is the NBA's active leader in the category and ranks sixth all-time.

The Thunder had won the previous six games during Westbrook's triple-double binge (see full story).

James moves into 9th on scoring list as Cavs top Heat
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 27 points to move into ninth place on the NBA scoring list, and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Miami Heat 114-84 on Friday night.

James passed Elvin Hayes on a driving layup with 6:58 remaining and has 27,315 career points. The four-time MVP was removed about a minute later and received a loud ovation from the Cleveland crowd.

Kevin Love, a game-time decision because of back spasms, scored a team-high 28 points and had 15 rebounds for the Cavaliers. He missed the morning shootaround but was in the lineup after warming up on the court about an hour before tip-off.

Kyrie Irving added 23 points for the Cavs, who have won three straight after losing three in a row.

Derrick Williams scored 17 points to lead the short-handed Heat, who have lost four straight (see full story). 

Schroder has career-high 33, Hawks rally past Bucks
MILWAUKEE -- Dennis Schroder scored a career-high 33 points and the Atlanta Hawks rallied from 20 down in the second half to defeat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-110 on Friday night.

Paul Millsap had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Atlanta. Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 18.

The Hawks, who ended a seven-game losing streak Wednesday with a win over Miami, trailed by 20 at halftime. A 40-point third quarter put them back in the game.

Jabari Parker scored 27 for Milwaukee. Giannis Antetokounmpo, in foul trouble throughout the game, had 14.

Atlanta pulled ahead 105-103 on Kyle Korver's jumper with 3:15 remaining, giving the Hawks their first lead since early in the game (see full story). 

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets top Red Wings to notch 5th straight win

DETROIT -- Brandon Dubinsky scored a tiebreaking goal in the second period and the surging Columbus Blue Jackets won their fifth straight game, 4-1 over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.

Lukas Sedlak got his first NHL goal for the Blue Jackets, who have earned at least a point in 12 of their last 13 games. Cam Atkinson contributed a short-handed goal in the first period for Columbus.

Dylan Larkin's power-play goal in the second was the only scoring of the night for the Red Wings. Sergei Bobrovsky had 32 saves for the Blue Jackets.

Sam Gagner scored into an empty net with 13.9 seconds remaining (see full story). 

Staal scores in 6th round of SO to lift Wild over Oilers
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Eric Staal scored in the sixth round of a shootout and the Minnesota Wild beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on Friday night.

Matt Dumba and Jason Zucker scored in regulation for Minnesota, which has won three straight.

Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk made 25 saves. He entered with a league-best .946 save percentage and 1.65 goals-against average.

Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had goals for the Oilers, whose four-game losing streak began with a 2-1 home overtime loss to the Wild last Sunday.

Staal scored on a backhand deke before Nugent-Hopkins fired wide in the sixth round (see full story). 

Raanta, Rangers beat Blackhawks, 1-0, in overtime
CHICAGO -- Nick Holden scored 55 seconds into overtime, Antti Raanta made 26 saves against his former team and the New York Rangers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0 on Friday night.

Derek Stepan passed from the boards to a streaking Holden in the middle of the ice, and he beat Scott Darling on the stick side for his fourth goal of the season.

Darling was going for his second straight shutout while subbing for injured starter Corey Crawford but had to settle for another solid performance.

Raanta, who made his NHL debut with Chicago in 2013 and played for the Blackhawks for two seasons before he was traded to New York, improved to 15-0-3 in 20 career appearances at the United Center.

The 27-year-old Raanta had 17 saves in Thursday's 2-1 victory at Winnipeg, and coach Alain Vigneault opted to give him a second straight start over Henrik Lundqvist because of his recent play and his success in Chicago (see full story).

Oshie, Johansson, Grubauer lift Caps over Sabres
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- T.J. Oshie and Marcus Johansson each scored a goal, Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves and the Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-1 on Friday night for their third straight win.

Jakub Vrana and John Carlson also scored, helping Washington beat Buffalo for the third time in 15 days.

Kyle Okposo scored and Robin Lehner made 25 saves for Buffalo. The Sabres have lost three of their last four.

Oshie gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead 6:43 into the second period when he lifted a shot from the right edge of the crease past Lehner. Jay Beagle drew two defenders into the corner and sent the puck back to a wide open Oshie for his ninth goal of the season (see full story).