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 MLB: Hyun Soo Kim's pinch HR gives Orioles win

Best of MLB: Hyun Soo Kim's pinch HR gives Orioles win

TORONTO -- Hyun Soo Kim hit a pinch-hit, two-run homer in the ninth inning off Roberto Osuna, and the Baltimore Orioles beat Toronto 3-2 on Wednesday night to move within one game of the AL wild card-leading Blue Jays.

With Toronto ahead 2-1, Jonathan Schoop singled with one out, pinch-runner Michael Bourn stole second and Kim homered on a 3-2 pitch into the visiting bullpen in right, causing the Orioles relievers to jump in celebration.

Osuna (3-3) has five blown save chances, including two in his last three appearances.

Mark Trumbo hit his major league-leading 46th home run, a solo drive off Jason Grilli in the eighth.

Brian Duensing (1-0) got one out, and Zach Britton finished for his 47th save in as many tries (see full recap).

Mets win to keep grip on wild-card spot
MIAMI -- The Marlins walked half a block alongside a hearse carrying their ace away from Marlins Park at the start of a funeral motorcade Wednesday, and then peeled away with watery eyes to go back inside and play a game.

Drained by four days of grieving, they didn't have much left for the New York Mets.

Jay Bruce hit his 32nd home run, James Loney also homered and the Mets helped their NL wild-card chances by beating Miami 5-2.

New York began the night leading the Giants by half a game and the Cardinals by 1 1/2 games in the race for the two wild-card spots. The Mets conclude the regular season with three games at Philadelphia starting Friday.

The Marlins' loss in their home finale eliminated them from playoff contention. Despite high hopes this year, they still haven't been to the postseason since 2003.

Set Lugo (5-2) went 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs.

Jose Urena (4-9) allowed five runs in five innings (see full recap).

Cano's HR boosts Mariners' playoff hopes
HOUSTON -- Robinson Cano hit a three-run homer in the first inning, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Houston Astros 12-4 Wednesday to keep pressure on the other AL wild-card contenders.

Kyle Seager added another three-run drive in the eighth, his 30th home run this season, as Seattle pulled within 1 games of Baltimore for the second AL wild card. Houston dropped three games back as its magic number for elimination was cut to two. The Orioles were at Toronto on Wednesday night.

Cano's career-best 36th home run, a drive off Doug Fister (12-13), landed in the first row of the Crawford Boxes in left field. Cano has nine homers and 25 RBIs in 19 games against Houston this season (see full recap).

Instant Replay: Braves 12, Phillies 2

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The Associated Press

Instant Replay: Braves 12, Phillies 2

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA – The Phillies continued to stumble toward the season’s finish line on Wednesday night. They were hammered, 12-2, by the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field.

Adam Morgan was bruised for 10 hits and nine runs in five innings.

The Phils have lost five of their last six games. They have given up 63 runs over that span.

The Phils have lost six straight to the Braves and are 16-35 in their last 51 games against the NL East.

With four games to play, the Phils are 70-88.

Starting pitching report
Morgan was hit hard early but had to give the Phils some innings as the bullpen has carried a heavy load lately. He finished the season 2-11 with a 6.04 ERA in 23 games, 21 of which were starts.

Atlanta’s Mike Foltynewicz picked up the win. He gave up just one run over five innings.

At the plate
The Phillies had just four hits. They have scored 599 runs this season. They are the only team in the majors not to reach 600.

The Braves had 13 hits, including six for extra bases. They were 5 for 11 with runners in scoring position.

Matt Kemp doubled and homered for the Braves.

Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman extended his hitting streak to 30 games. He has reached base safely in 46 straight games, tying Washington’s Jayson Werth for most this season.

ICYMI
Like Pete Mackanin, GM Matt Klentak sees a need for offense, but he remains committed to the team’s rebuild (see story).

Health check
Roman Quinn is likely done for the season. Aaron Nola is throwing in Florida (see story).

Up next
The series concludes on Thursday night. Jeremy Hellickson (12-10, 3.78) will make his final start of the season (and likely his final with the Phillies) against Atlanta right-hander Josh Collmenter (3-0, 4.19).

It will be the Phillies’ final appearance in Turner Field. The Braves move into a new park next season.

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