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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Flyers rally past Sabres to force Game 7

    BUFFALO, N.Y. — Staring at elimination  and an early two-goal deficit that caused them to once again change goalies, the Flyers didn’t blink Sunday afternoon at the HSBC Arena.

    Winger Ville Leino scored on a rebound 4 minutes, 43 seconds into overtime, capping a dramatic comeback that produced a 5-4 win over the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals — and evened the suddenly compelling series at three games apiece.

    “”I was almost too excited,”” said Leino, referring to the rebound. “”I think I missed it once and then finally got it in. A lucky bounce there.””

    The Flyers overcame deficits of 2-0, 3-1 and 4-3.

    “”It was a lot of character on our side,”” said winger Kris Versteeg, who helped set up the goal by shooting the puck toward the net and having it bounce off Mike Richards, heading to Leino. “”We’re just not going away.””

    Veteran goalie Brian Boucher, in relief of surprise starter Michael Leighton (three goals on the first seven shots), stopped 24 of 25 shots to help the Flyers stay alive.

    Game 7 will be played Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center at 7:30 p.m. EDT, and coach Peter Laviolette announced that Boucher will get the start.

    In franchise history, the Flyers are 8-6 in seventh games, including last year’s epic win in the conference semifinals in Boston.

    “”It comes down to a best of one,”” said defenseman Chris Pronger, who played for the first time since March 8 but was used only on the power play. “”And we obviously have to build on what we accomplished here today.””

    Scott Hartnell converted a Richards pass for the tying goal with 9:17 left in the third period, knotting the score at 4. It was Hartnell’s first goal of the series.

    It marked the second straight game the Flyers were in a deep early hole. They trailed by 3-0 in Friday, tied the score at 3, and then lost in overtime.

    Leighton, the journeyman goalie who surrendered the overtime goal in Game 5, lasted just one period. Leighton, who had just one NHL start this season and spent most of the year with the AHL’s Phantoms, was replaced by Boucher at the start of the second period.

    At the time of the goalie switch, the Flyers faced a 3-1 deficit, with Thomas Vanek scoring two of the goals on the power play.

    That meant Buffalo had outscored the Flyers, 11-5, in the first period in this series.

    “”It’s not an easy situation to come in, down two goals,”” said Danny Briere after a stirring two-goal performance. “”But [Boucher] made the key saves he had to make, especially on that five-on-three.””

    The Flyers tied it at 3 on second-period goals by James van Riemsdyk (10 shots) and the irrepressible Briere (power play), but fell into a 4-3 deficit when Boucher couldn’t grab Nathan Gerbe’s deflected shot from the high slot with 3:54 left in the second period. The shot caromed off the stick of defenseman Sean O’Donnell.

    “”We didn’t stop believing, even when they made it 4-3,”” O’Donnell said.

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