Ville Leino’s overtime goal capped a furious Flyers comeback as they beat the Sabres 5-4 to force a game seven in their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series back in Philadelphia.
The start was eerily reminiscent of game five, when surprise starter Michael Leighton gave up three first period goals on only eight shots to the put the Flyers in a 3-1 hole after one period. Facing elimination, Peter Laviolette changed his goalie for the third time in six games to bring in Brian Boucher. Although Boosh did give up yet another incredibly soft goal at the end of the second, he did make some spectacular saves to keep the Flyers in the game. He ended up making 24 saves and will almost certainly be the game seven starter.
Like game five however, after falling in an early hole the Flyers would fight back.
As has been the case for most of this series, the man who keyed the Flyer comeback was Danny Briere, who scored his fourth of the playoffs in the first and fifth in the second. James van Riemsdyk, who has been arguably the Flyers best player in this series, also scored while Scott Hartnell netted the game tying goal just a few seconds after Buffalo had killed off a relentless Flyers power play.
But the game winner would belong to Ville Leino. First to set the scene. In the waning moments of the third period and into overtime, the game really devolved into basically pond hockey. It was rush after rush, very little shape or fluidity in the play of either team… it was a free for all. Nearly five minutes into overtime, Kris Versteeg got the puck at the top of the circle and after having his initial shot blocked, was able to get good wood on his second attempt. The shot appeared to hit Mike Richards on it’s way toward goal and spilled just to the left of Ryan Miller, who swiped at the puck, but couldn’t reach before Ville Leino tapped it in for the game winner.
After the game, Peter Laviolette talked about what a feat it was for his team to come back from big early deficits twice now.
"Coming back from two goals or three goals in the National Hockey League is not an easy thing to do," Laviolette said. "It's a difficult thing to do and most of the time you cave. And when you have to do it back-to-back, it's extraordinary."
Game seven will be in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
It’s worth mentioning that Chris Pronger did play tonight, but was limited to only the power play and logged just over four minutes of ice time.