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SCF: Kings expect more from Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Kings were bemoaning the fact they were nowhere near their best in Game One but still came away with an overtime victory in the Stanley Cup final. They expect to play better, but they're also bracing for the Devils to come with much more than they showed in the opener.

“Nobody wants to be down 2-0 whether you’re on the road or at home, either way," Kings goalie Jonathan Quick said. "They’re going to come out and fight hard. We have to bring the game we know we can bring. We didn’t bring it last night. I don’t think they brought theirs either. The pace is going to be a little quicker, and it’s going to be more physical.”

New Jersey was uncharacteristically flat early in the game and afterward blamed nerves for slowing them down through the first two periods. Los Angeles spent the first 40 minutes trying to gain their legs after an eight-day layoff between series. Both teams played better in the third period, which should carry over into Saturday's game.

The Kings' success largely has come from getting strong starts. Los Angeles has been tied or in the league seven times during their nine game winning streak on the road. The Kings have a 7-1 record overall when scoring the first goal, which they did last night. But they also have played well late in games, outscoring their opponents, 16-4, in the third period and overtime.

"I thought they played as hard as anybody we’ve seen in the playoffs so far," Kings center Jeff Carter said. "They have a great forecheck, they get on you quick and they have a lot of speed up front. They provide a lot of pressure. I expect them to be better next game, too. I expect the next game to be ramped up a little more."

--- Bucky Gleason

SCF: Tallinder on Lidstrom and more

NEWARK, N.J. -- Old friend Henrik Tallinder spoke about countryman Nicklas Lidstrom with reverence this afternoon after the Red Wings legend retired this morning after 20 seasons. Lidstrom was the standard for all Swedes, particularly defensemen.

"He’s been an icon in Sweden for so long," Tallinder said. "Two decades is a long time playing in the best league in the world. The things he has accomplished is remarkable. In my eyes, he’s the best Swedish player we had over here. No offense to [Peter] Forsberg and [Mats] Sundin, but with four Stanley Cups and seven Norris Trophies, that says it all."

Lidstrom was one of the classiest players I've ever been around in any sport. The way he carried himself and the respect he had for the game and the people around him will stand out as much as anything he accomplished on the ice. Lidstrom played 1,564 games and had 264 goals and 1,142 points in his career. He'll be inducted into the Hall of Fame with no questions asked.

“For me, growing up, he wasn’t my biggest idol because I was too young," Tallinder said. "Once he started to make it in this league, who doesn’t look up to him? He’s an icon and everyone wants to be like him, play like him, offensively, defensively, you name it. He does it all.

"Just watching him play is almost like – I think you described it once – is almost like a symphony.”

I did? Not exactly, but it's remarkable what players remember sometimes. Even I had to look it up.

Tallinder was referencing a column from May 2009 -- more than three years ago -- about the Red Wings in which I wrote, "Nobody is better than Detroit at its best. The Wings aren't a machine, but a symphony, an art form to be appreciated." It was about the Red Wings, but the same could be said about Lidstrom. They were one in the same.

Tallinder, by the way, is anxious to get into the lineup in the Stanley Cup finals. He's back to full strength after suffering from a scary blood clot behind his left knee that limited him to only 39 games. He researched the damage a blood clot could cause and had fears it could travel to his heart, which could be fatal. He has been skating for a while and is ready to play if called upon. 

"I'm good," he said. "I'm ready. I don't know. The coach [Peter DeBoer] has to make the call, but I feel physically fine. I don't have any issues. I've been practicing for two or three weeks now and feel good. If I get the chance, it's a dream come true. This is where you want to play."

Tallinder laughed when I told him Sabres owner Terry Pegula suggested his and Toni Lydman's departure in 2010 was more devastating than when Chris Drury and Daniel Briere split town in 2007. He hadn't heard Pegula thought so highly of him.

"That's a compliment, but that's B.S.," Tallinder said. "When we lost Danny and Dru, that was a kick in the butt. That's where we lost it. Nothing against Pegula, but that's where Buffalo lost a lot as a city and as a team." 

--- Bucky Gleason

SCF: Devils find different beast in Kings

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Devils found a hungry and well-coached but underskilled team in Florida in the first round, a battered but talented team with weak goaltending in Philadelphia in the second round and a deep and disciplined but low-scoring team in the Rangers in the third round in the postseason.

The Devils today were saying the Kings were a different beast because they have all the best qualities of their first three opponents and very few weaknesses. Los Angeles is fast and physical, balanced and deep, and they have the goaltending to match any they faced so far in the playoffs.

"They’re a different team than the Rangers and the other teams we’ve faced so far," rookie center Adam Henrique said after the Devils lost, 2-1, in overtime in Game One. "They bring a little bit of all those teams into one. They’re a deep team. They have puck-moving defensemen and solid goaltending, but that’s to be expected. They’re here for a reason. We need to focus on our game and how we need to play. There’s a lot of room for improvement on our side."

The Devils took comfort knowing they pushed Game One into overtime despite playing poorly in the first two periods. They admitted being nervous in the first period and sloppy in the second. The good news for them was that they still had a chance to win. They missed several opportunities in the game that would have changed the outcome, and the complex of the series, had they converted.

"We didn’t play our best," forward Travis Zajac said. "We were a little nervous in the first period, a little tentative. You could see that. We weren’t making plays. We were throwing the puck away a little too much, and we weren’t moving our feet and getting in on the forecheck like we usually do. We felt me missed an opportunity."

The Devils did not skate today as a team. Instead, they took the day off and will resume workouts tomorrow in preparation for Game Two on Saturday night in a game they desperately need. The team that loses the first game in the Stanley Cup final has lost the series 76 percent of the time. New Jersey lost the first game against Philadelphia and the Rangers before storming back to win both series.

"One of the areas that's cropped up in every round is we've been a little tentative in the first game, kind of felt our way and then jumped in with both feet in Game Two," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said. "I think that's hopefully what we'll do here again."

--- Bucky Gleason

SCF: Kings 2, Devils 1, OT

NEWARK, N.J. -- Anze Kopitar has scored 20 goals in each of his six NHL seasons, so he knew what to do tonight when he found himself with a breakaway against Devils goalie Martin Brodeur. He faked Brodeur to the ice and lifted a shot past the fallen goaltender.

The result was a 2-1 overtime victory over the Devils in Game One of the Stanley Cup finals. The eighth-seeded Kings assumed command for the fourth straight series with the win. They have won nine straight road games in the postseason and earned the split they wanted when they arrived in Newark.

"It feels great," Kopitar said afterward. "Any time you get a chance to finish off a game in overtime, especially against a world-class goalie like Marty, it feels good."

Kopitar busted loose after drifting toward center ice and accepting a blind pass from Justin Williams that landed right on his tape. Colin Fraser also scored for the Kings. Anton Volchenkov was given credit for the Devils goal after his shot bounced off Slava  Voynov and landed behind Jonathan Quick.

If you didn’t have a rooting interest, the game Wednesday could have been mistaken for a Wednesday night game in November. OK, so there were a few big hits and scoring chances, but little would have told you they were playing for the Cup other than the clutching and grabbing allowed by the officials.

"There wasn’t much going on offensively for either team," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "It’s tight quarters out there. I think both teams would say that."

Game Two is set for 8 p.m. Saturday in the Prudential Center.

--- Bucky Gleason

 

SCF: Kings are tired of resting

NEWARK, N.J. -- Los Angeles Kings captain Dustin Brown this morning said he had no problem sleeping last night, the eve of Game One of the Stanley Cup final, but he's ready to start the best-of-seven series against the New Jersey Devils. The opener is set for 8 p.m. in the Prudential Center. 

"I slept fine," Brown said. "The afternoon nap might be a little more difficult. It’s going to be more [emotional] when we get here tonight. It felt like any other morning to me. When we get here tonight, the nerves are going to pick up."

The Kings made quick work of the Canucks, Blues and Coyotes and lost just two games in the first three rounds to reach the finals for the first time since 1994. They've had plenty of time to relax in between series but have effectively been able to regenerate the energy and unity that carried them this far in the first place.

"It has allowed us to enjoy what we accomplish in the series that just ended," Brown said. "On the flip side, a few days later, you hit the reset button and get that work mentality back. You want to keep playing. From a rest standpoint, to get where we are and have the rest that we’ve had, it’s definitely a positive."

Brown, 27, who grew up in Ithaca and played frequently in Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse as a kid, is making his first appearance in the finals. It's hardly his first big game. He played for the United States in the 2010 Olympics, losing the gold medal to Canada. He's leading the Kings with seven goals and 16 points and is plus-13 in 14 postseason games.

"It’s important for some guys like myself and some younger guys to understand that we might not have this chance again and be ready to go from a playing standpoint," Brown said. "It’s nice to sit here and pat everyone’s back. At the end of the day, we haven’t done everything."

--- Bucky Gleason

Boucher, not Ward, in goal for Canes

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Carolina Hurricanes have lost six of their last seven and coach Paul Maurice is dealing with daily rumors about his job status. So what does the coach have in store tonight against the Sabres? A surprise in goal.

The Canes didn't skate today and Maurice met the media this evening in the 5 o'clock hour with the announcement that backup Brian Boucher will play goal against the Sabres and not former Conn Smythe Trophy winner Cam Ward.

Maybe Maurice is playing a hunch off Boucher's work in the playoffs against Buffalo last year, although some of that was certainly spotty. He said it's largely a byproduct of giving Ward a mental break.

Ward is just 6-8-2 with a 3.27 GAA and .904 save percentage. Boucher has yet to start at home and is 0-2-1, 3.86. .864.

Boucher is 3-4, 2.86 in his regular season career against Buffalo, but owns wins in the playoffs in 2000 and 2011. For all that you remember Ward for in 2006, his regular season mark against Buffalo is a pedestrian 7-6-2, 2.89.

The Canes were complete no-shows in Wednesday's 4-0 loss at Montreal but this still seems odd. Your job is at stake and you put it in the hands of the journeyman over the guy with the ring? Whatever.

Join us at 7 for our live blog. The MSG telecast will be run by Kevin Sylvester, Danny Gare and Brian Duff.

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

Stanley takes a spill on Ryder's day

Summer isn't over yet for the Boston Bruins on their individual tours with the Stanley Cup. Each member of the winning team gets it for a day and today is Michael Ryder's day in his hometown of St. John, Newfoundland. Ryder, who will play for the Dallas Stars this year, is planning a helicopter ride but the day didn't start very well as the Cup got dinged thanks to a tricky table leg.

Check out the video from the St. John Telegram.  Bet there's a nervous Cupkeeper nearby.

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

One last chance in Vancouver

Roberto Luongo survived the pressure to win an Olympic gold medal last year in Rogers Arena. He's going to have to defy the detractors again to win the Stanley Cup tonight in his home barn. Here's a look at today's front page from the Vancouver Province, which clearly puts the onus on the Canucks' goaltender to get it done in Game Seven.

The image is from the Today's Front Pages collection of the Newseum.

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

Province

Game Six Cup pregame chat with Bucky Gleason at 7 p.m.

Game Four pregame Stanley Cup audio

Here is some audio from today:

Canucks forward Manny Malholtra

Download the audio and take it with you

Bruins forward Brad Marchand

Download the audio and take it with you

Canucks coach Alain Vigneault

Download the audio and take it with you

Bruins coach Claude Julien

Download the audio and take it with you

--Bucky Gleason

Pregame updates from Gleason in Boston

Check back to the Sabres Edge blog for audio from today's news conferences and more updates from News NHL Columnist Bucky Gleason prior to Game Four of the Stanley Cup final tonight.

Issues with the wireless setup in TD Banknorth Garden have limited multimedia updates this morning.

Also check back and join Gleason in a live chat at 7 p.m. leading up to tonight's opening faceoff.

Audio: Bruins' Julien, NHL's Murphy

Here is audio from today's news conferences:

Bruins coach Claude Julien


Download the audio and take it with you

NHL Senior VP Mike Murphy


Download the audio and take it with you

--Bucky Gleason

SCF: Horton sidelined, Rome suspended, for season

BOSTON -- Bruins forward Nathan Horton suffered a severe concussion and is sidelined for the rest of the Stanley Cup final after Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome drilled him with a blindside hit in the first period of Game Three in TD Garden.

Rome was handed a four-game suspension, ending his season, in a decision handed down by the NHL this afternoon. Senior Vice President Mike Murphy, who is serving as chief disciplinarian in this series, made the decision and meeting with Rome today.

It was a stiff penalty but one that should have been expected given the crackdown in recent years on hits to the head. Rome's hit met virtually all the criteria for Rule 48, which was added with the intent of eliminating such hits from the game.

Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli confirmed in a statement released by the team that Horton will not return before the best-of-seven series is decided. Horton was carted off the ice on a stretcher and spent the night in Massachusetts General Hospital. The Bruins already were without Marc Savard after he suffered a severe concussion.

The Bruins had their media availability this afternoon at Boston University. The Canucks are scheduled to meet with reporters later this afternoon.

--- Bucky Gleason

Canucks: Watching tough for GM Gillis

BOSTON -- Canucks President and General Manager Mike Gillis, who has been given much of the credit for building a Stanley Cup-caliber team, acknowledged he has a difficult time watching Vancouver play because of the emotional roller coaster that comes with the job.

Gillis was hardly relaxing today even though the Canucks won the first two games over the Bruins in the Stanley Cup final and can take full command with another win tomorrow night in Game Three. Both games were extremely tight with neither team holding a lead greater than one goal.

Vancouver won both games by the slimmest of margins, taking Game One when Raffi Torres scored with 18.5 seconds remaining and winning the second one in overtime.

"It's hard," Gillis said. "It's emotional, and it's difficult to watch. You have no control over the outcome, so you're stressing. You're elated when your team is doing well and not so elated when they're not doing so well. It's one of the hardest things in this job, trying to remain calm and not getting too strung out with what's going on out there.

--- Bucky Gleason

 

Stanley Cup: Burrows, Bruins

BOSTON -- Alex Burrows is certain to receive a greeting Zdeno Chara and a select few others could appreciate when he shows up tomorrow night in TD Garden for Game Three. He has become the top villain for the Canucks so far in the Stanley Cup finals.

Burrows, of course, was the guy who bit Bruins center Patrice Bergeron in Game One and avoided suspension in Game Two. Sure enough, he came back to bite the Bruins with a wraparound goal 11 seconds into overtime and finished the night with two goals and one assist. You could practically hear Bruins fans moaning when they realized it was Burrows who scored the winner Saturday.

As you can imagine, they love him in Vancouver for all the right reasons. He was an undrafted free agent who spent three seasons in the ECHL. He has averaged 29 goals and 116 penalty minutes over the past three seasons and is a key figure on the top line with the Sedin twins.

The Canucks aren't expected to arrive in Boston until this evening. The Bruins traveled across the continent last night and arrived early this morning.

All the attention on Burrows has taken away from the fact that the Canucks were the better team in each of the first two games and deserved to win. The Bruins wouldn't have reached the finals if not for Tim Thomas, who has allowed four goals in the two games and suffered two losses.

Boston has scored only twice in the series, with both goals coming 2:35 apart in the second period to take the lead. The Bruins were outshot 11-5 in the third period alone and had just six shots on net after Mark Recchi gave them the lead with 8:25 remaining in the second period.

--- Bucky Gleason

 

Review 'Bucky Live,' Inside the NHL chat

News NHL Columnist Bucky Gleason answered your questions directly into the camera at 10:30 a.m. today in addition to his traditional Inside the NHL live chat, which began at 10 a.m.

Joining Gleason in the premiere of "Bucky Live" was News Sabres beat reporter John Vogl.

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Another final for Boston as Bruins take their turn

Horton Boston is going to get a chance at another championship. Hey Beantown, how about sharing with the rest of us? For the ninth time since 2001, a Boston team is in the finals of the four major sports after the Bruins' 1-0 win in Game Seven against the Tampa Bay Lightning Friday night.

While the Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics have all had good runs of late, it's been a long time for the Bruins. They haven't made the Stanley Cup Final since losing to Edmonton in 1990 and haven't won the Cup since 1972. As a city, Boston is 6-2 in its recent title forays. 

Writes Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy: "These are Boston’s Glory Days, Black-and-Golden Days, Lobster Salad Days." And he throws out another wild note: If the Bruins win the Cup, the Boston team with the longest title drought would be the Patriots -- going all the way back to 2005! 

Nathan Horton (above right) got the goal with 7:33 left made the difference and he is the first player in history with two Game Seven winning goals in the same playoff year. The Bruins got him from Florida last June for defenseman Dennis Wideman, the 15th overall pick in last year's draft a third-round pick this year. Lots of folks in these parts were advocating the Sabres go for Horton. Pretty good return for the Bruins, don't you think?

Down in Tampa, St. Pete Times columnist Gary Shelton -- one of my favorites from trips to the Final Four and World Series -- had this take on the end of a great ride for the Bolts: "No one is ever sorry to see a bad season end, after all. A bad team is like a bad tooth, and the quicker you can get rid of it, the better. When a team is successful, however, you cannot help but notice the opportunity that was missed."

May26_tower_tiggyIn Vancouver, meanwhile, enthusiasm is higher than ever for the Canucks. In the form of a 56 feet long and 20 feet wide banner (left) affixed to the control tower at the Vancouver airport. Game One of the final is Wednesday night.

And who could be a surprise entry at some point in this series? Canucks center Manny Malhotra, a faceoff ace who suffered a career-threatening eye injury more than two months ago, is practicing fully. That would be quite an addition. Shades of Erik Cole returning to the Hurricanes late in the '06 final against Edmonton.

Malhotra could use as many days as he can get but the schedule might be tough on the Canucks, who will go eight days without a game and play just one in 11 days because there's a two-day break after Game One.

And how about some kudos for my cohorts? In our season preview video at Buffalonews.com, John Vogl picked the Bruins to beat the Canucks in the SCF while Bucky Gleason had the Canucks over Washington (I had the Capitals over the Canucks. Oh well). If you scroll to the 2:25 mark below, you can review the discussion of our picks.


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

(Horton photo from AP, Vancouver tower photo from Canucks.com)

Afternoon hockey today in Tampa

It's an afternoon battle for the Bruins and Lightning today in Tampa as the teams have a 1:30 faceoff on NBC for Game Four at the St. Pete Times Forum. The Bruins have a 2-1 lead in the series and don't expect to make any lineup changes today. 

Here's a link to Boston coach's Claude Julien's pregame meeting with reporters at the noon hour. 

Meanwhile, the Lightning have to figure out a way to beat Tim Thomas if they want to stay in the series. After 10 goals in the first two games, a shutout at home was not what Tampa Bay expected.

NHL.com has the six questions facing the teams heading into Game Four.

Memo to NBC: You're not shipping this off to Versus to go to the Preakness pre-race babble if this one goes overtime. You learned your lesson from Sabres-Senators, circa 2007, right? RIGHT?

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

Live from Philly: This is it -- It's Game Seven

PHILADELPHIA -- Greetings again from high atop the Wells Fargo Center as we get set for Game Seven of what's been a classic first-round playoff series (It's also the fifth game I've covered here since March 6 so I would be more than happy to get to the Verizon Center if the Sabres oblige this evening). 

The Sabres and Flyers have played six games, plus a combined roughy 10 minutes of overtime, and Philly's 17-16 advantage in goals is simply courtesy of Kimmo Timonen's empty-netter in Game Three. Pretty amazing. 

At this point, the Sabres are playing with the house's money here. Sure, they blew a golden opportunity to close out the series Sunday and frittering away a pair of two-goal leads might haunt them all summer if they don't win tonight. But they're the seventh seed and the Flyers are the No. 2. And even without Chris Pronger and Jeff Carter, close Flyer watchers say they've played some of their best hockey since the new year in this series. Their problem has just been some horrific goaltending.

The Flyers are going with Brian Boucher tonight and he cannot have the start he did in Game Five, when he handed Buffalo two cheapies to Tyler Ennis and Thomas Vanek. The odd thing to note is that Boucher actually has better numbers (2.13 GAA, .935 save percentage) than Ryan Miller (2.61/.925). Miller has two shutouts and two five-goal games in the series. The Sabres are so short-handed, you figure he's going to have to nearly pitch another shutout.

We have had all kinds of information all day on the Sabres Edge blog, including notes, quotes and plenty of audio. Be sure to go back and check it all out if you've missed it. And be sure to check out the archive of our pregame live chat.

There's been a lot of jaw-flapping in this series since the end of Game Four and it's finally time for all the words to stop. It's time to play. Sixty minutes -- and maybe more -- to decide a winner. Keep it here for all your updates.

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

LINEUP: Montador is a scratch for Buffalo. So are Ellis-Kaleta-Connolly-Pominville. Roy-Hecht-Grier-Mancari are all in.

SABRES STARTERS: Vanek-Roy-Hecht-Sekera-Myers-Miller (guess they'll find out right away if these guys can play)
FLYERS STARTERS: Carcillo-Richards-Versteeg-Coburn-Timonen-Boucher. 

7:37 p.m.: The Flyers take the ice to roars from the crowd. They pass out orange T-shirts here and EVERYONE is wearing it tonight. Quite a look.

7:38 p.m.: The Sabres hit the ice. Boos.

7:40 p.m.: Another Lauren Hart-Kate Smith duet. Hard to beat that. Pretty deafening in here right now.

THIRD PERIOD

Of note: Stafford has four shots and Gerbe three to lead Buffalo. Briere has six to lead the Flyers. ... The Sabres have the lead in faceoffs, 23-20, but Gaustad's two clean losses were crushers. The Flyers have blocked 23 shots -- 17 in the second period -- while the Sabres blocked just 11. ... Briere, Richards and Giroux all have two-point games. ... Roy has played a mostly ineffective 13:08. The Flyers have gotten 12:17 out of Pronger. Ice time leaders are Coburn (16:24) and Leopold (16:26).

9:35 p.m.: The puck is dropped.

18:01 left: Good night, nurse. Leino goes down the left wing and pounds a slapshot from inside the circle over Miller's left shoulder. Flyers lead, 4-0. And here comes Enroth. Miller taps him on the pads, Lindy says something to Miller and No. 30 disappears down the tunnel into the offseason.

16:09 left: Boucher stops Sekera from the point and the "Booosh" chants come out again. Fans having a great time here and why not? Team has played great. Flyers could easily go to the finals again if Boucher can give them consistent goaltending and Pronger keeps getting healthier.

14:00 left: The Flyers won't know their second-round opponent tonight because the Habs have beaten Boston, 2-1, and they'll play Game Seven tomorrow in Beantown. East second round if Boston wins will be WAS/PIT-TB winner and PHI/BOS rematch. If Montreal wins: WAS-MON rematch and BOS/PIT-TB winner.

13:27 left: And the Flyers still don't have a shutout this year. Myers takes a Stafford pass and beats Boucher cleanly from the slot. Flyers lead, 4-1.

12:17 left: Timeout, Philly. Sabres playing better and Laviolette doesn't want anything goofy to happen given how leads seem to disappear in this series. Shots are 7-3 for Buffalo in the period.

9:57 left: Carcillo is one of those punk players you love on your team and hate if ye's on the other team. Well, tonight he's been doing a great job around the net causing havoc and he just got rewarded as he backhanded one past Enroth while falling down. What a pest. "Icing on the Cake" reads the sign-man's sign. Flyers lead, 5-1.

8:54 left: They just announced a scoring change on the third Philly goal. It's now going to Van Riemsdyk, his fourth of the series, instead of Giroux. They ruled Van Riemsdyk tipped it in. 

8:15 left: Flyers fans singing good-bye to the Sabres as Gerbe and Carcillo are shown the gate for the night. Gerbe gets 10, while Carcillo gets 10 plus a game. Hmmm. The last few minutes as Sabres for some guys in uniform. Maybe names like Mancari, Grier and Niedermayer? What do they do about Boyes? And this is probably the end too for Connolly, Montador and Lalime?

6:29 left: Boucher hasn't been tested but you can see his confidence too. Nice stop on Sekera. Out on top of his crease. Confident in what he's doing.

5:41 left: Timonen for holding.

4:39 left: Sabres convert as Boyes tips home a Roy feed. So he won't have a donut for the series but it hardly means anything. Flyers lead, 5-2. Boyes had gone 18 games without a goal.

3:02 left: Enroth with a great save on Powe's backhand tip of a Briere feed. How has Briere been so alone in this series?

2:00 left: Enroth to the bench.

58.5 left; Sabres have zone time, lose the puck and Ennis gets a slashing penalty.

Mercifully, it's over: A 5-2 loss ends the Buffalo season. The better team won here tonight. Final shots were 36-27. The Sabres had their chance in Game Six and they'll rue that one all summer. See you in training camp.

SECOND PERIOD

Of note: AP guru Mike Haim points out the only other time the Sabres had just two shots in a first period of the playoff game was on April 29, 1997 against Ottawa. That was a Game Seven overtime win too. Hmmm.). ... In Montreal, Boston's Milan Lucic got a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a hit from behind on old friend Jaroslav Spacek. Sabres can't even get five minutes called, let alone the gate. Of course, it gets called in Montreal where if you breathe on a Canadien, the crowd goes beserk and every referee in the league gets spooked. Biggest bunch of whiny fans in the league. ... OK, I'm told Grier's glove deflected the goal. Fine. Still hate it.

Stats: Coburn and Van Riemsdyk had three shots on goal. Grier and Gerbe have the only shots for Sabres. Um, top forwards? You gonna show up? Flyers had a 12-8 edge in faceoffs. Sabres have a 15-11 edge in hits. Both teams have blocked six shots. Even with just a 1-0 score, that might have been the Sabres' worst period since the new year.

8:38 p.m.: The puck is dropped.

18:56 left: Giroux for interference. Miller made a big stop on Versteeg after just 14 seconds. Let's see if Sabres can capitalize.

17:29 left: Ennis a near miss. Couldn't tee the puck from backhand to forehand with a lot of net available and Boucher smothered. Great work at the points by Myers and Gragnani.

16:39 left: Boucher stops a Stafford wrister. Sabres have four shots in this period already.

15:20 left: Gaustad and Boyes have two routine easy clears out of the zone and fail both times. Zherdev fires wide on the first and Van Riemsdyk nearly puts it home on the second (hit Zherdev) before Myers takes an interference penalty.

15:15 left: Gaustad is killing the Sabres. Lost the faceoff and bad clear for another goal. An easy PP goal. Lost another faceoff. Shot from point hits Leopold, drops at Briere's feet and he has a tap-in. Flyers lead, 2-0. Shots are 18-6. Briere has six goals in the series.

12:20 left: Roy to the dressing room after a hard hit. Was it the leg? Pretty slow on the way off.

10:51 left: Butler for hooking on Briere. Another goal here and they blow the roof off this place.

9:41 left: There goes the roof. Pronger can't shoot but he can pass. Feeds Giroux for a bullet from the left circle. Miller might have been screened by Leopold and/or Van Riemsdyk. Flyers have 2 PP goals and lead, 3-0. The "Mil-ler, Mil-ler" chants are out and this baby is just about over. Shots are 22-8.

7:01 left: Shots are 23-9. Sabres mounting little offense. At a time like this, you think back to 2001. Can't help it. Sabres were 78 seconds away from a series-closing win before Mario Lemieux's fluke goal tied Game Six and forced overtime. Buffalo lost that one and Game Seven on the Darius Kasparaitis goal. Sabres were 10 minutes away in regulation of Game Six and couldn't get the overtime goal they needed either. With just 27 minutes left here, they don't have a sniff of this Game Seven.

6:30 left: Another Mike Haim special: Briere's six goals most in a series against Sabres since Quebec's Michel Goulet had six in 1985 -- in a five-gamer! 

4:00 left: Wild sequence sees Miller with a left glove to the face of Carcillo, which had to be a roughing penalty but wasn't called, followed by few seconds later by Carcillo doing a fake rush on Miller. Van Riemsdyk then barely misses the far post on a great solo dash.

3:32 left: Shots are 25-11. This place is insane right now. There is almost no way for you to talk to the person next to you in the press box. Like being at a heavy metal concert I would guess (no, I've never been to one).

1:12 left: Boucher with a couple good saves in tight on Stafford. Solid text reminder from Sully: Flyers did not have a shutout all season. Imagine getting one in Game Seven after all this talk about their goaltending? Carle gone for roughing.

57.8 left: Coburn and Myers go for cross-checking and slashing. Stays 5-on-4.

END-2ND: It's 3-0 for the Flyers. Shots are 27-14 (it was 12-11 for Buffalo in that period)

FIRST PERIOD

7:42 p.m.: The puck is dropped.

18:26 left: Pronger is taking a regular shift for the Flyers it would appear. Just made a steal in the neutral zone and Miller made a save on his wrist shot.

17:03: Gragnani and Briere go for holding and roughing, respectively. The lines have looked like this so far: Vanek-Roy-Hecht, Ennis-Niedermayer-Stafford, Gerbe-Gaustad-Mancari, McCormick, Boyes-Grier.

13:17 left: No whistles for quite a while. The Sabres have been pretty brutal with the puck so far. Giroux was alone in front and had most of the net but hit the post. Shots are 5-1 for Philly and the puck has hardly been out of the Sabres' zone. The defense pairs, by the way, are Sekera-Myers, Leopold-Gragnani and Butler-Weber. So Butler and Myers have been broken up.

11:53 left: Gragnani pounds Briere with a crosscheck into the goalpost. Knocks the net off and forces a whistle. No one noticed? Lucky there. Shots are 7-1.

10:52 left: Sabres' best chance is a 45-foot slapper from the boards by Grier that Boucher gloved. Buffalo has gotten nowhere near the Flyers' net so far. Shots are 7-2.

9:00 left: Sabres have held on for 11 minutes as the crowd was roaring. Let's see if they can settle this game down some. Flyers threw a pretty big roundhouse at them from the start.

8:36 left: Boyes fires wide on a 2-on-1 with Roy. Good to see him shoot but how big a pressure release would that have been for him to put that one home?

6:16 left: Shots are 11-2. That's a pretty good reflection of how the play has gone. And remember, the first period has been owned by Buffalo in this series, 11-5. The Flyers have finally found a way to get off to a good start. Don't have to worry about your goalie giving up a softie if he faces no shots.

5:45 left: Just as I said that, Boucher nearly gift-wrapped one to Hecht by losing the puck behind the net. Boucher recovers with help from Pronger & Co. Pronger has played eight shifts and 4:38 so far. Basically a regular turn. Maybe he's feeling better. Sure. But he knows this is Game Seven too. They lose, his hand will feel fine by October. A gamer for sure. 

4:37 left: Briere for boarding on Niedermayer. Another dangerous play in the corner. Niedermayer stunned for a bit. Now on the bench. And the crowd actually booed the penalty call. FlyerFan, that could have easily been five minutes.

2:33 left: Flyers kill it easily. Richards actually had the best chance with a tip of a Giroux pass that went wide. Standing ovation at the whistle.

29.3 left: Miller with an absolute stoning of Richards from the slot after a terrible giveaway pass from Leopold. Passed it right to him. Sabres desperate to get out of this period zip-zip.

18.2 left: Devastating. Sabres simply couldn't clear the zone. Too many faceoffs. They lose another one (Briere beat Gaustad) and Coburn flips one from the point that somehow gets through Miller's legs. It dropped. Gotta stop it. Miller had been the best player on the ice by far. Almost got Buffalo outta here with no damage. Flyers lead, 1-0.

END-1ST: Shots are 16-2. Are the Sabres simply out of gas in this series? Looks like it. And that might have been the worst goal Miller has given up the whole series at the worst time. 1-0 is a huge difference right now from 0-0 given the way the Flyers are playing.

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.

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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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