Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Tyler Ennis scored 5:31 into overtime as the Buffalo Sabres took a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
In the extra session, a blast from the left point by Mike Weber was stopped by Michael Leighton, but the pad save saw the puck go out to the right side and Ennis buried it for the win.
Ennis recorded the first goal of the game while Marc-Andre Gragnani and Thomas Vanek also scored for Buffalo, which blew a 3-0 lead only to win in overtime for a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. Ryan Miller stopped 36 shots in the win.
“I was proud of us for being able to come out of a 2-2 series and establish a lead,” said Miller. “The Flyers are a very strong team, have a lot of playoff experience, and a lot of guys that can get the puck to the net. I thought we re-established our game pretty well in the third period and carried it forward into overtime. When you get a rebound anything can happen and we got the bounce. It was a good to establish a game and then re-establish. I was proud of the way we handled it.”
The Sabres will have their first chance to close out the series on Sunday afternoon in Game 6 at HSBC Arena.
Andrej Meszaros had a goal and an assist while James van Riemsdyk and Danny Briere each lit the lamp for the Flyers, who got two assists from Claude Giroux.
“I don’t know, I felt good about our game,” said Briere. “We deserved to win that once again. The chances were lopsided. Bad start spotting them a three- goal lead. It was just a rough start, something we need to improve on. We can’t hang our heads. We were in a worse position than that last year, so if there is a group of guys who can do it, I believe in this group of guys here.”
Brian Boucher, who started the past two games after coming on in relief of rookie Sergei Bobrovsky in Game 2, was pulled after allowing three goals on 11 shots.
Leighton, who was the hero of Philadelphia’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, stopped 20 shots in relief but was unable to corral the 21st.
It was an inauspicious start for the Flyers as Buffalo scored two easy goals to start the game.
The first came just 2:24 in as Ennis threw a shot on net from a very sharp angle at the left boards and it found its way into the net. Boucher seemed to be at fault as he did not react to the puck until it ticked off the inside of his pad.
Just 1:27 later, it was a 2-0 game as a chip shot from behind the right side of the net by Vanek was banked in off the left knee of Boucher through a small space between his pad and the right post.
Skating on a 4-on-3 power play, the Sabres made it a 3-0 game. Working the puck around the perimeter, the disc eventually found its way over to the right circle where Gragnani banked it in off the right post.
That prompted a goaltender change and Leighton became the third person to man the pipes for the Flyers in this series.
The Flyers began the comeback at the 8:12 mark of the second period. A slap shot by Meszaros at the left point was stopped by Miller, but he left the rebound uncovered and van Riemsdyk was able to wheel around and backhand it in.
Less than two minutes later it was a 3-2 game as Meszaros’ one-time blast at the top of the left circle went through several players then Miller.
The Flyers tied the game at the 3:36 mark of the third. Kris Versteeg kept the play alive behind the Buffalo net and was able to get the disc over to Mike Richards, who threw the puck over to the right side and Briere was able to backhand it home from inside the crease.
Philly was awarded a power play with 2:22 to play in regulation, but was unable to take advantage and the game went to the extra session.
Each of the Sabres’ previous two playoff series against the Flyers (2001, 2006) ended in a sixth game…Philadelphia went 0-for-5 on the power play and is now 2-for-26 with the man advantage in the series…Buffalo went 1-for-3 on the power play…Briere and Vanek each have three goals in the series…Buffalo’s previous two wins in the series were both 1-0 contests…Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger and forward Jeff Carter both missed the game. Pronger has yet to play in the series with a fractured right hand while Carter has a lower-body injury and it is being reported that he night miss the rest of the playoffs.