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Last-chance time for pointless Boyes

PHILADELPHIA -- Here's all you need to know about Brad Boyes' play in this series: Ryan Miller has more points (1) than Boyes, the $4 million trade deadline acquisition who is signed for next year and has one more chance to break the donut in points he has going in this series.

Every Sabres who has played at least two games in the series has a point and Boyes has had a regular turn on the ice in all six. The only Flyer forwards without a point are penalty killers Blair Betts and Darrell Powe.

"I definitely need to produce more and chip in," Boyes said today. "It's been tough after games and after Game Six it was real hard for me. The way we lost and knowing if I chip in, it's a difference."

What's been Boyes' problem? He's seemed slow to the puck and slow to spots at times. He's becoming very hesitant to shoot the last couple games, collecting just 12 shots on goal in the series. His ice time has been decent (14:28 per contest) but he simply hasn't produced.

"Thinking too much is part  of it," Boyes said. "When I'm thinking, I'm not skating and when I'm not skating, I'm not as productive as I could be. I have to keep an open mind. When things don't go well, you start to think more. It's been real tough."

Here's an audio clip of part of my chat with Boyes today.


Brad Boyes

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Sabres ready, no matter who plays

The Sabres' lineup will be a question mark up until tonight's Game Seven faceoff, with injuries and absences sticking with the team heading into the biggest game of the season.

Patrick Kaleta, Mike Grier and Jordan Leopold missed the morning skate in Wells Fargo Center, while Jochen Hecht and Andrej Sekera took part but remain questionable to face the Flyers. Kaleta is definitely out with what's believed to be a hand injury, though he played three shifts in overtime of Game Six, including the final one when Ville Leino scored. Grier and Leopold are game-time decisions, coach Lindy Ruff said.

Hecht hasn't played since March 29 because of an upper-body injury. The forward chatted after practice but gave no clear indication of whether he's available.

"I’m getting better every day," Hecht said. "Am I playable? It’s a close call. It’s nerve-wracking sitting out. It would make it a lot easier on my nerves just to play. It’s definitely hard to watch.

"The guys that play tonight, they want to come out hard. From the first minute on, they’re going to lay everything on the line. It’s blocking shots, playing the body –- there’s no hesitation. There’s no saving it for the next game."

The Sabres will get Derek Roy back, but he showed during practice there will be an adjustment period. Ruff and assistant coach Brian McCutcheon shook their head during a power-play drill when Roy failed to see an open player. McCutcheon skated to Roy after the drill for a chat.

"Between the regular season and playoffs, there’s another notch there where it’s got to be quicker and faster," Ruff said. "The intensity is a lot greater, so things are going to have to happen quicker. It might take him a few shifts, but I think he’s up to the task.

"We need him to do a lot. We need him to step in and be a big player. It’s tough. He hasn’t been in a game in four months, but we’re ready to give it a go."

Ruff said all the players who will be in the lineup are ready.

"It’s a one-game showdown that we’re looking forward to," Ruff said. "We’ve got a chance to do something real special. We need a smile on somebody’s face after the game like Tyler Ennis. That’s all we need. You try to get your players to embrace the fact that these Game Sevens don’t come along very often. It’s been one heck of a series, and we need some guys to step through and be the hero for us."

To hear from Ruff, Roy and Hecht, click the audio files below.

---John Vogl

 

Lindy Ruff

 

Derek Roy

 

Jochen Hecht

Do Flyers have an edge at home?

PHILADELPHIA -- The Flyers are at home tonight for Game Seven but how much of an advantage will it really be?

Sure, the Wells Fargo Center has been a howling, orange-clad cauldron of noise, but the Sabres have won here twice in this series and also won here on March 5. And get this: In the last 10 Game Sevens in the NHL, the home team is just 2-8 -- and the road team has won the last four straight. 

The Flyers are 8-6 in Game Seven in their history and have won their last two, in overtime in 2008 at Washington and last year at Boston. The Sabres are just 1-5 overall and 0-4 on the road, with the lone win in 1997 in overtime over Ottawa on Derek Plante's goal.

So is there really a home-ice advantage?

"It's something we can't sit back and rely on," said Danny Briere. "We have to go out and make it happen and try to use our fans to our advantage. ... Growing up, what you dream about are those Game Sevens and being able to make a difference. It's another chance for us tonight. It's another elimination game for us. We've been in many of them in the past year and we have to approach it with the same mentality we've had."

"Stats are for you guys," added Mike Richards. "For us, we feel confident. That tells you how tight the games are."

Coach Peter Laviolette said his team understands there will be highs and lows within the game and doesn't think the experience of his club's Game Seven win at Boston will help his club much tonight.

"The last thing I would hate to do is hang my hat on last year's experiences," he said. "Today is all about the moment, how we play and how we go out and perform on the ice."

Hear audio from Briere, Richards and Laviolette by clicking the links below.

(You'll hear chuckling when Laviolette's meeting with reporters was interrupted for a few seconds as the audio box malfunctioned and TV/radio reporters had to move microphones to the podium).


Danny Briere


Mike Richards


Peter Laviolette

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

No Kaleta-Grier-Leopold on ice

PHILADELPHIA -- Patrick Kaleta and Mike Grier are both absent from the Sabres' morning skate and they would both appear to be out for Game Seven. Derek Roy, Mark Mancari and Jochen Hecht are among 12 forwards skating.

Andrej Sekera is also on the ice, meaning seven defensemen are taking the morning skate. My bad: Jordan Leopold did not take the skate either. His status remains uncertain.

The lines look like this

Gerbe-Gaustad-Mancari
Ennis-Roy-Stafford
Vanek-Niedermayer-Hecht
Ellis-McCormick-Boyes 

Without Jason Pominville and Tim Connolly, the power play units are thin. At least right now, Tyler Myers has taken turns playing on both units. 

The top unit was Stafford-Ennis-Vanek-Gragnani-Myers. The second unit was Gerbe-Roy-Boyes-Butler-Myers, with Mancari stepping in for Myers some.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Mancari back with Sabres

PHILADELPHIA -- The Sabres just got off the team bus and entered Wells Fargo Center for their morning skate, and right wing Mark Mancari is with them. He had been sent back to Portland and played for the Pirates over the weekend in their playoff series.

Right wings Patrick Kaleta and Mike Grier missed Monday's practice because of injury, so it's possible one or both could be unavailable for tonight's Game Seven against the Flyers.

The Sabres will take the ice at 11:30 a.m., and we'll have more updates then.

---John Vogl

Briere Won't Name Names

Danny Briere is neither confirming nor denying that Patrick Kaleta was the unnamed Sabre who Briere felt crossed the line with his on-ice razzing in Game Six. Briere said after the game that the verbal assault provided him added motivation.

“I’m not going to name any one," Briere said at practice Monday  "Like I said, it was just a moment where he definitely crossed the line, but it definitely played into our favor.  We tried to turn that to our advantage, which we did, both me and Scott [Hartnell].  There is no anger, and there is nothing that I want to do or see any more consequences.  It was done yesterday, and that’s all it is.  I’m just going to use that to my advantage to get me fired up even more.”

Kaleta reportedly incensed both Briere and Hartnell with references to their divorces.

Meanwhile, Mike Richards was nonchalant about escaping further discipline from the NHL for his hit that KO'd Tim Connolly.

“I was excited to play; there is no doubt about that," Richards said. "I am not worried about that and I am just worried about helping the team out and getting one by the goaltender tomorrow."

-- Bob DiCesare

 

Unknown opponent for Caps

The Washington Capitals are through to the second round and will have home-ice advantage but after they won't know anything else about their playoff situation until Tuesday or Wednesday.

As the Washington Post wrote Tuesday: "If Buffalo wins its series with Philadelphia, Washington plays the Sabres. If Philadelphia wins and the Canadiens can come back from down three games to two to capture their series against Boston, the Capitals get a rematch against Montreal. Or if both higher seeds Philadelphia and Boston win their respective series, Washington will face the winner of the Pittsburgh-Tampa Bay showdown."

Game Seven of that last series will be played Wedneday in Pittsburgh.

Workout Update

Neither Patrick Kaleta nor Mike Grier were on the ice for Monday's brief workout at HSBC Arena. Coach Lindy Ruff offered no comment on their status. Andrej Sekera and Jochen Hecht both practiced but, again, Ruff skirited the issue of their availability. Hecht, believed to be recovering from a concussion, told me he hasn't been cleared to play . . . but that doesn't mean he won't be cleared. He's been skating the last nine days.

Kaleta's absence could well have been to diffuse the issue after Danny Briere claimed his was motivated by comments Kaleta made to him on the ice Sunday. Meanwhile, Ryan Miller expressed disappointment that Mike Richards escaped suspension for the Game Six hit that will sideline Tim Connolly for Game Seven. But he didn't dwell on the issue.

-- Bob DiCesare

 

Lindy ready to write a Sabres fairy tale (but not for The News)

Derek Roy said he's 100 percent healed, and the Sabres center is ready to play Tuesday for the first time since needing quad surgery in late December. He comes back just in time, with the Sabres traveling to Philadelphia for Game Seven to decide the winner of their first-round series.

"It's a great experience to go out there and know that all is on the line," Roy said today after practice in HSBC Arena. "It's going to be a moment that will last forever."

Roy is needed because the Sabres will be without center Tim Connolly, right wing Jason Pominville and have other banged-up players in Mike Grier, Patrick Kaleta, Andrej Sekera and Jochen Hecht. News columnist Jerry Sullivan asked Lindy Ruff if it reminds him of the string of injuries that derailed the Sabres in 2006, when they lost to Carolina in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference finals.

"Yeah, but I wrote a different script to this one, Jerry. We've got a fairy-tale ending to this one," Ruff said with a smile.

Sully responded, "Derek scores the winner."

"That's right," Ruff said. "That's right. I've already got that one. I can almost work at The News -- I wouldn't want to, but ..."

For audio of Roy and Ruff, click the files below.

---John Vogl

 

Derek Roy

Lindy Ruff

Report: No suspension for Richards

Mike Richards will not be suspended by the NHL for his boarding of Sabres center Tim Connolly, Sportsnet.ca's Nick Kypreos is reporting. The Flyers' captain will be in the lineup for Game Seven on Tuesday night in Philadelphia.

The Sabres prepared for the deciding game with a loose practice today in HSBC Arena. Forwards Derek Roy and Jochen Hecht took part, with Roy scheduled to play (though coach Lindy Ruff let out a tease that he isn't sure if he'll use the center). Right wings Patrick Kaleta and Mike Grier missed practice because of injury, and Ruff was uncertain of their status for Tuesday.

Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, who made 44 saves during Sunday's 5-4 overtime loss, wants his team to return to the tighter defense it played during his two shutouts. To hear Miller's thoughts on Game Seven, the lack of suspension for Richards and the opportunity awaiting the Sabres, click the audio below.

---John Vogl

Video: The hit heard 'round WNY

A video captured from Sunday's NBC broadcast shows the hit in which Flyers captain Mike Richards sent the Sabres' Tim Connolly into the boards, and out of the game.

Was Richards' action a dangerous play, in the words of Ryan Miller, or what Philadelphia Daily News columnist Sam Donnellon calls an unfortunate accident?

Watch the video and judge for yourself.

 

--Greg Connors

 

Sabres want Richards suspended; Roy returning for Game Seven

The Sabres are steadfast in their belief that Philadelphia captain Mike Richards should face supplemental discipline for boarding Tim Connolly during their 5-4 overtime loss Sunday. Connolly's head struck the glass, and he is out for the deciding Game Seven on Tuesday in Philadelphia.

"If Mike Richards thinks we’re getting away with murder, I don’t know what he just got away with," Sabres goalie Ryan Miller said. "Mass murder? Are we stepping it up a notch? Unbelievable. We lose a player for the rest of the game. That’s the kind of hit the league has been talking about that’s dangerous. They better seriously consider looking at that one. It’s unbelievable."

Said Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff: "Tim’s not doing very good. That’s something the league definitely has to take a look at. It’s a lack of respect for another player on the ice. It’s from behind. It’s headfirst. It’s a tough play. We lost a good player.

"I think if the league looks at it the way I saw it on video, they may lose a good player, too. That’ll be even, too."

Ruff said center Derek Roy, who's been out since undergoing quad surgery in late December, will return for the series finale.

To hear Ruff and Miller, click the audio files below.

---John Vogl

 

Lindy Ruff

 

Ryan Miller

Vote for your three stars

Live from the Arena: Sabres-Flyers Game Six

Welcome to a potential clinching game in HSBC Arena, something we haven't seen since Game Five against the Islanders in 2007. And we haven't seen a Game Six clincher since the Sabres waxed the Flyers here in 2001 with a crazy 8-0 rout. I do not expect that today.

We're waiting for the lineups to be made official but Michael Leighton was the first goalie on the ice for the Flyers and Chris Pronger DID take the warmup. So we'll see. No Derek Roy or Jochen Hecht for the Sabres. Matt Ellis is in for Jason Pominville.

Keep it here well into the evening for all your updates and we should have the lineup decisions from the Flyers in the next couple of minutes.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

3:10 pm.: Lineups are in and Leighton and Pronger are both in for Philly. Connolly is wearing an A for Buffalo in Pominville's absence.

Sabres starters: Ennis-Niedermayer-Stafford-Leopold-Gragnani. Goal: Miller
Flyers starters: Van Riemsdyk-Richards-Versteeg-Carle-Meszaros. Goal: Leighton. 

3:15 p.m.: The Sabres take the ice to a huge roar from their gold pom-pom waving fans. NBC's Darren Pang snags Nathan Gerbe for the quickie interview at center ice.

Overtime

Of note: "We Can Be Heroes" is one of the tunes played in the intermission here. Good choice. Which Sabre might join Ennis in that category? ... This is the first playoff overtime at HSBC Arena since Daniel Alfredsson won the clinching Game Five of the Eastern Conference final here for Ottawa on May 19, 2007. ... Meszaros has played 28:31 for Philly, Leopold leads Buffalo at 25:05. Stafford is next at 24:09. ... Van Riemsdyk has 10 shots on goal in the game. Wow. Briere has six. Stafford and Coburn have five, while Gerbe and Zherdev have four. ... Sabres have a 41-32 edge in faceoffs. Buffalo also leads by a smidge in hits (22-20) but Flyers have the edge in blocks, 16-15.

6:20 p.m.: The puck is dropped. Where's Van Miller right now? Fasten your seatbelts.

17:51 left: No shots yet.

17:31 left: Gaustad just wide.

17:07 left: Kaleta shot from the wall stopped by Boucher with Gaustad in front looking for a rebound.

15:17 left: Leino with a tap-in. You could feel it coming. FLYERS WIN 5-4.

Third Period

Of note: Vanek and Briere now share the NHL lead for playoff goals with five. Gragnani has seven points, one off the NHL lead, and is tied with Anaheim's Corey Perry for the assist lead with six. ... The Sabres are 2-5 on the PP and the Flyers are 1-4. ... Pronger has played just 3:24 -- all on the power play -- and took a penalty of his own. So he's basically useless. ... Gragnani is leading the Sabres in ice time at 18:01. Stafford is leading forwards at 16:24 as he's gotten 3:54 on the PP and 2:45 on the PK. Meszaros leads the Flyers are 18:34 but he limped off late after taking an Ennis shot to the foot. 

5:29 p.m.: The puck is dropped. Connolly did not return. Imagine he's in the quiet room.

16:38 left: Stafford off the post on a 2-on-1. Great saucer pass by Ennis. Puck was rolling and he struggled to chip it up high and true. Flyer into the net to stop play and Stafford smashes his stick on the glass in disgust.

16:35 left: Boucher snags Gerbe quick wrister off the faceoff.

15:00 left: Boucher with a save on Boyes.

14:50 left: Miller comes back by stopping a Briere slapper and Leopold gets the crowd roaring by wiping out Briere behind the net. Shots are 4-3, Buffalo.

13:00 left: Ennis is skating circles around the Flyers for two games straight. Another great shift ended with a Weber slapper just missing.

12:36 left: Offside on Flyers and the crowd is up waving the pompoms. (And don't tell me how to spell that. NO ONE says "pom-pons")

11:21 left: Butler for holding. Pronger comes back out.

10:09 left: Pronger can only pass. He can't shoot at all. Won't shoot. Had a couple chances.

9:17 left: Hartnell with a tap-in on a Richards pass -- under both Gaustad and Miller just four seconds after the penalty expires. GAME TIED, 4-4. Shots are 42-31 for the Flyers and it's 11-5 in this period. Sabres tried to hold on for 24 minutes. Couldn't do it.

8:22 left: Connolly is listed as a MAY RETURN with an upper-body injury.

3:30 left: Sabres getting outworked badly. Are they out of gas? Shots are 14-5 for Flyers. 

3:26 left: Vanek in alone stopped.

3;15 left: Briere passes on a 2-on-1. Didn't connect.

2:54 left: Offside. Flyers have 11-1 edge in shots in last 12 minutes. Ouch.

1:23 left: Kaleta with 70-footer that Boucher gloves but has to hold for faceoff.

39.5 left: Brutal icing on Flyers. Take another step. 

And we are going to ooovertime: It's 4-4 through 60 minutes. Shots are 45-32 for the Flyers (14-6 in the third period)

Second Period

Of note: The Flyers' power play is 2 for 29 in the series. The Sabres are 6 for 25. Myers had three assists in the first period and Gragnani had two more. Myers played 8:03. He's a beast. Van Riemsdyk has a game-high three shots on goal. By far the Flyers' best player. Has Mike Richards even played in this series? ... AP stats guru Mike Haim reports Vanek's five goals in the series are a first for a Sabre since the immortal Chris Gratton had five against the Flyers in 2001. ... Sabres have an 11-5 edge in the first period in this series.

4:23 p.m: BOUCHER IS IN GOAL FOR THE FLYERS. And the puck is dropped.

13:14 left: Apologies for the disappearance. I had a frozen laptop, not related to Internet issues, and it took a while to get it back. The Sabres' lead was cut to 3-2 on James Van Riemsdyk's snapshot from the slot 49 seconds into the period and the Flyers have been good in this period. Buffalo has a 7-6 edge in shots but Boucher has too much degree of difficulty to deal with ... The Flyers have been so good in the Buffalo zone for spells that Lindy Ruff used his timeout with 16:19 left. Didn't look like he said much. ... Gragnani pulled a puck off the goalline a few seconds earlier that was going in.

So we now should be able to resume our regular programming. Shots are 23-15 for Philly.

12:12 left: Leopold for holding after a scrum. Never event saw an arm in the air. Terrible call. 

11:17 left: And the Flyers' PP finally gets it done. Connnolly played a long time with no stick and Briere blows it by Miller. Game tied, 3-3. 

10:03 left: Boyes high and wide from the slot.

9:09 left: Sabres have an 11-5 bulge in goals in this period. It's 8-1 for the Flyers in the second. Hard to figure that out.

8:08 left: Boucher snags an Ennis shot to hit Carle's leg just before it gets over the line.

7:27 left: Miller makes the save on a 3-on-2. It's the Flyers' 30th shot of the game (Buffalo has 17).

6:54 left: Good shift from Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta results in Versteeg slashing penalty. Vanek PP time.

6:03 left: Richards boarding Connolly from behind. How is that not a major? Two-man for 1:10.

5:18 left: Boucher holding firm on three shots so far. Coburn dumped Vanek well after a whistle. Timeout, Philly.

4:00 left: FLYERS SURVIVE

3:51 left: And just like that , another goaltending mishap. Gerbe with the quick snapper high glove on Boucher, who pounds the ice after he misses it. It was deflected by O'Donnell. Sabres lead, 4-3. It was 12 seconds after the PP ended.

1:58 left: Shots on goal are 30-26 for the Flyers. The Sabres have had the last nine in the game.

END-2ND: Sabres lead, 4-3. Shots were 18-14 for Buffalo and it's 31-26 through two. A wild affair.

First Period

3:21 p.m.: The puck is dropped.

18:39 left: Great shift by Gerbe-Gaustad-Kaleta. Kaleta saves an icing and Gaustad throws his weight around twice. He ends up grappling with Hartnell and body slamming him behind the net. They're both getting two minutes. Could have been five. Crowd loves it.

17:47 left: A 3-on-2 break and Ennis feeds Niedermayer for a wicked snapshot to the top corner. Leighton on his knees. Has to make that save. right under the bar. Sabres lead, 1-0. The place explodes. Niedermayer's first playoff goal since 2007 with Anaheim. The guy was a dog during the season but great in this series. His 18th career playoff goal, first since the '07 final vs. Ottawa.

16:52 left: Miller stops a Coburn deflection, Coburn's second good chance of the game. Shots are 5-2 for Philly. 

14:00 left: Pronger has not been on the ice yet. They dressed seven D in the game. He must be there for moral support.

12:30 left: Shots are 7-2 for the Flyers but it's not like they've had any real control of things. Sabres have been buzzing in the Philly zone but mostly kept outside. You get the feeling another goal on Leighton might really open the floodgates (or bring in Boucher).

12:10 left: Carcillo for cross checking. Not the most intelligent play in the world, coming in the offensive zone against McCormick.

11:19 left: And the penalty kills the Flyers as Myers puts one toward the net and Vanek reaches behind and deflects it off Andrej Meszaros' leg and in. Sabres lead, 2-0. Two goals on four shots. Vanek's fourth of the series, three on the PP. Another assist for Gragnani.

9:55 left: Gerbe for holding. Let's see if Pronger comes out. Shots are 10-4 for Philly. Pronger skating around limbering his legs. Looks like he's going to be a PP-only guy today. Gerbe has to think better than that. Don't get engaged with anyone and grab a stick when your team has all the momentum.

9:22 left: Briere-like boos first time Pronger touches the puck.

7:15 left: Solid job on the PK. Flyers had virtually no zone time at all. Shots are 12-4 for Philly but Miller is sharp again. The crowd up here by us is chanting, "Who's Your Goalie?" Reminds me of Yankee Stadium's "Who's Your Daddy" at Pedro Martinez. Solid creativity there.

6:39 left: Briere trips Kaleta well after the whistle in the Buffalo crease. Kaleta chirps at him on the way to the bench.

5:35 left: Leighton robs Montador from the slot and Montador misses the backhand rebound with much of the net. That would have been just about it for the Flyers and Leighton you'd think.

5:07 left: It was inevitable. Flyers have been better last few minutes. Briere gets open alone in front and flips one past Miller. Sabres lead, 2-1. Shots are 14-5 for Philly.

3:47 left: Connolly for cross checking. Flyers 2 for 27 on the PP in the series and desperately need one here.

2:22 left: Butler for delay over the glass. Big mistake. Another two-manner for the Flyers for 36 seconds. 

1:58 left: Pronger for slashing in front of the net as Myers battled him and dropped him after the slash. 

1:46 left: Meszaros for high sticking against Gragnani. So much for that Philly power play. Now it's 4-on-3 for Buffalo.

33.0 left: Vanek with an absolutely ridiculous circus goal on the PP. Pulls the puck behind him, through the legs, through Leighton's legs. Sabres lead, 3-1. Leighton has to stop that one too. Flyers have to go to Boucher for 2nd period, right? 

End-1st: Sabres lead 3-1. Leighton skates off with mask atop his head, no chance of seeing the ice again. Shots were 17-8 Philly. This series is all about power plays and goaltending. Buffalo is absolutely killing the Flyers in both.

Live pregame chat with News hockey reporters at 2:30 p.m.

Sabres call up Ellis, return of Roy, Hecht 'very close'

The Sabres, in need of a forward after losing right wing Jason Pominville to a leg laceration Friday night, have recalled center Matt Ellis from Portland. The move will allow Brad Boyes to shift from the middle to his natural right wing position for Sunday's potential series-clinching game against the Flyers.

The Sabres held a team meeting today in HSBC Arena rather than practice, though injured players were scheduled to skate in Northtown Center at Amherst. Two of those -- center Derek Roy and forward Jochen Hecht -- could be in the lineup if the Flyers force Game Seven.

"Derek is very close, very close," Ruff said. "I would put him in a category of within days. Jochen Hecht is a matter of days, too. Help is on its way."

The Sabres, of course, are eager to try and close out the Flyers in Game Six without the duo and in front of their own fans. To hear from Ruff, left wing Tyler Ennis and right wing Mike Grier, click the audio files below.

---John Vogl

 

Lindy Ruff

 

Tyler Ennis

 

Mike Grier

Video of Pominville injury

Sounds from the Sabres' locker room

PHILADELPHIA -- Here's some audio from the locker room after the Sabres' 4-3 overtime win over the Flyers in Game Five:


Lindy Ruff


Ryan Miller


Tyler Ennis


Thomas Vanek

Vote for your three stars

Live from Philly: Sabres-Flyers Game Five

PHILADELPHIA -- Greetings from high atop the Wells Fargo center for Game Five and I immediately bring you some good news as we get set for the latest installment of NHL's whine-and-cheesesteak series between the Sabres and Flyers: No, it's not that Chris Pronger is definitely out, although that is good for the Sabres. The big news is I got an Ethernet port going so we're expecting no issues with the connection here and the live blog, as we had in Games One and Two.

Now that you know my technical issues are secure, let's talk hockey. OK, wait a minute. We'll talk hockey in a minute after food. I had to stop at the Reading Terminal Market today and it was phalanx of people to navigate on Good Friday. Saw a Sabres fan wearing a slug jersey bless himself in line at a cheesesteak place. I thought he was worried about eating a Philly delicacy today but folks on Twitter reminded me about Good Friday and no meat (you lose track of days covering one of these).

We flew into Baltimore last night (saving the good folks at One News Plaza nearly $700 apiece on three airfares) and stopped for dinner at G&M Restaurant, about the greatest crabcake place on the planet. Props to John Vogl for that find.

Now, let's talk hockey. The Flyers are going to come out flying and hitting in this one. That's all they've been saying. They've even put incendiary quotes on the jumbotron during the pregame, such as Kimmo Timonen saying they'll double their hits tonight from Game Four and Ville Leino saying the Sabres "won't be heroes so much" on the road. 

Here's one way to do it: It looks like injured Jeff Carter might be replaced by 5-foot-11, 180-pound Zac Rinaldo, the organizational thug from the Adirondack Phantoms. He had 331 penalty minutes in the AHL this season -- yes, 331 -- and ended it on a three-game suspension. Reading tweets from Flyers reporters, Rinaldo had more suspensions this year (4) than goals (2).

Ben Holmstrom, who can actually skate and play hockey, also took the warmup. We'll see who gets the call.

Let's see if the Flyers can dent Ryan Miller. Oddly enough, it's Brian Boucher who leads NHL goalies in the playoffs with a .954 save percentage and 1.54 GAA. Miller is fourth at 2.02 and .937, also pretty awesome stats.

We have another thanks-for-nothing-TSN 7:40 start on our hands. We should be able to provide plenty of updates here.

Just got this word from CSNPhilly.com -- They're reporting Pronger and Carter are both out for the series. Wow. 

Check out the archive of Bucky and Vogl's pregame chat by going to this link. And be sure to join us Sunday at 2:30 prior to Game Six.

---Mike Harrington
(www.twitter.com/bnharrington) 

Scratches: It's official that Rinaldo is in over Holmstrom. Also out are Carter, Pronger and Andreas Nodl. The Sabres continue to scratch Roy, Hecht, Morrisonn and Sekera. 

Sabres starters: Gerbe-Connolly-Stafford-Butler-Myers. Goal: Miller
Flyers starters: Carcillo-Richards-Versteeg-Coburn-Timonen. Goal: Boucher 

OVERTIME

10:23: The puck is dropped

15:51 left: Some technical trouble. Shots are 4-0 for Flyers. No great chances.

14:29 LEFT: Ennis on the rebound from Weber. SABRES WIN 4-3..

Third Period

Of note: Van Riemsdyk leads all players with five shots. Meszaros has four and joins Giroux with two point games while playing 17:28. ... Vanek leads Buffalo with four shots. Sabres have a 19-18 edge in faceoffs -- even though Connolly is 2-10. 

9:29 p.m: The puck is dropped.

16:24 left: Just an out-and-out disaster. Sabres doing nothing in this period and the inevitable tying goal comes. Of course, from Briere. Versteeg beats Butler to the puck and Briere sneaks from the back to take Richards' pass and beat Gaustad to the open set by a surprised Miller. Game tied, 3-3. 

15:36 left: Leighton stops Boyes. His first decent save. Just the ninth shot he's faced. 

13:59 left: Boyes and Ennis get a couple chances and Leighton stops Ennis, who has easily been Buffalo's best forward tonight. This is hard to believe that there's been three huge blown leads this week (NYR vs. Washington and LA vs. San Jose). In most cases, you get a big lead in the playoffs and you lock it down. Pretty amazing.

13:17 left: Leighton stops Stafford cutting in front. 

12:24 left: Briere goes for interference. Mauls Gaustad near the Flyers' net. Sabres coming on.

9:55 left: Leighton solid during the PK. Sabres have 27-26 edge in shots. It's 9-2 in this period. They've been much better, oddly enough, since the tying goal. Leighton played just one NHL game this year but you have to remember he led this team to within two games of the Cup last year. 

6:45 left: Shots are 27-27.

4:15 left: Timonen with the block on Connolly from the slot. Big news for the Flyers: Giroux limps off and looks bad doing it.

2:22 left: Leopold for hooking. Dumps Zherdev in front. Kind of ticky-tac for this late in this situation.

2:05 left: Giroux in alone. ... Miller stones him. Went right between Butler and Myers.

1:13 left: Timeout, Flyers. Lot of pressure so far. One of their best PPs of the series.

On to OT: We're tied at 3-3. Shots were 11-11 and it's 35-29 through regulation for Philly.

Second Period

Of note: Flyers credited with 16 hits, Sabres just six. OK, Mr. Statman. Whatever. Myers played 8:57 and Gragnani 7:27. ... Briere is -2 and his penalty cost Flyers third goal. Vanek only Sabre wtih three shots. 

NO POMINVILLE, NO LEOPOLD on the bench. Did Pominville get cut when the skate came loose? 

17:21 left: Gaustad goes for holding. Building very quiet.

15:30 left: Niedermayer for delay, a rolling puck over the glass. Flyers up two men for nine seconds.

14:32 left: Great save by Miller on the 5-on-3 on a deflection from the edge of the crease by Giroux.

13:12 left: Sabres survive. Flyers power play is just terrible. Crowd booing after an icing.

13:04 left: Sabres say Pominville (lower body) will NOT return. Leopold (upper body) MAY return.

11:48 left: Van Riemsdyk, easily the Flyers' best player in the series, grabs the rebound of Meszaros' point shot, walks around Miller and stuffs it home. Definite danger zone for Sabres. Sabres lead, 3-1.

10:48 left: Miller snares Carle's shot from the point. Crowd getting back into it. Shots are 18-13 for the Flyers.

10:03 left: Now they're really back into it. Meszaros drills a one-timer from the slot past a screened Miller. Sabres lead cut to 3-2. Timeout, Lindy. Shots are 10-1 for Philly in the period.

9:02 left: During commercial, building roaring, heckling Miller, "Let's Go Flyers" etc. Vogl and I agree: At HSBC, they'd play a blooper reel or the kisscam and kill the crowd. That's why the atmosphere stinks there a lot. People running the game presentation don't understand hockey momentum.

6:15 left: Gragnani for cross checking. Looked like a nice dive by Powe. Plus the official at center ice a long way away called it rather than the guy looking right at it. Leopold returned on the last shift by the way.

4:17 left: Miller stops an open Briere to his right. Shots are 23-15 for Philly (14-2 in the period).

3:23 left: Another good save by Miller on a Carcillo backhand from in tight.

End-2nd: Sabres holding on to their 3-2 lead. Shots were 15-5 for Philly (24-18 overall). That's a good example of getting saved by the bell. Sabres need this break.

First Period

7:40 p.m.: After another scintillating Lauren Hart-Kate Smith duet, the puck is dropped.

17:36 left: Exactly the start Buffalo wants. A brutal goal allowed by Boucher as Ennis beats him with a low shot nearly from the goalline on the Sabres' first shot. Was Boucher playing a pass? To who? Wow. Sabres lead, 1-0. Ennis' first of the series.

17:14 left: Rinaldo played on the second shift and had a couple of hits, one on Vanek and a solid one on Kaleta. both clean. This place is stone quiet.

16:44 left: Stafford stopped on a wraparound. Sabres need to put every puck on the net while Boucher and this crowd are in shock. See if you get another gift, maybe another fat rebound.

16:09 left: Wow, part II. Kaleta beats a Flyer to the puck behind the net and tips it to Vanek -- who banks if off Boucher from behind the goal line. Incredible. Sabres lead, 2-0. Vanek's first of the series at even strength and third overall. Sabres lead, 2-0.

15:49 left:  This shows the Flyers' problem. I'd have pulled Boucher. But can you really go with your No. 3 guy, even if Michael Leighton led the team to the Stanley Cup finals last year? 

12:33 left: Shots are 8-2 for Buffalo. The place is stunned. Pominville just shot wide on an Ennis feed. Myers had a good chance blanked and Boucher made a save on Boyes. Aside from the score, it's a perfect start for Buffalo because the Flyers can't run around like crazy and risk taking penalties. You might not see Rinaldo at all now. 

11:10 left: Flyers turning the puck over and Boucher giving out rebounds all over the place. Meszaros gone for tripping Vanek -- gave him the puck away at the blue line and had to prevent a breakaway. Shots are 9-2. I'm surprised Laviolette didn't go for the timeout after the second goal. He might have no choice here if Buffalo converts.

9:00 left: Just one shot on the PP. Let's see if that's some momentum for Philly. Sholts are 10-2.

8:42 left: Another Philly giveaway but Leino stops a 2-on-1 by blocking Stafford's pass to McCormick. This is by far the most lopsided 11 minutes of the series. The Flyers have been absolutely awful from the goal out.

8:17 left: Montador for high sticking. Careless play against the wall going with Hartnell. No reason for it.

6:14 left: Just as the penalty ends, Richards takes a slash at Miller. Butler responds. Crowd irate as Richards and Butler both go. And they have shown replays here at least three times that I've noticed to incite the crowd. Butler roughing, Richards slashing. Lindy would probably say Richards and the crowd are whining again.

5:10 left: Briere for goalie interference. Obvious call there. Not even much booing on the replays.

4:24 left: Great passing on the 4-on-3 and the Sabres convert. Gragnani lets it go and it beats Boucher between the legs. Sabres lead, 3-0, and here comes Leighton for Boucher. Shots are 11-7 for Buffalo.

3:23 left: Miller's best save on Giroux all alone after a Pominville giveaway at the line. And Pominville is off to the dressing room. Dropped his gloves and stick and I'll be totally honest -- I was looking down and typing. Didn't see it.

1:30 left: Weber limps off, took shot off left leg.

End-1st: Sabres hold the 3-0 lead. Shots are 13-9 for Sabres. We also note Leopold didn't play much at the end of that period.  We'll have to see how all this injury stuff shakes out.

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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl | jvogl@buffnews.com

About Sabres Edge


Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

@BNHarrington | mharrington@buffnews.com


Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

@amymoritz | amoritz@buffnews.com

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