After a hard fought series where not an inch of ice was taken easily, the Flyers finally overwhelmed the Sabres in game seven with a dominant 5-2 victory that sends Philadelphia through to the second round of the NHL playoffs.
As has been the case all series, it was Danny Briere who got it all started. He set up Braydon Coburn’s goal in the first, then scored his sixth of the playoffs on the power play in the second period to put the Flyers up 2-0. With the goal, the ex Sabre Briere tied Teemu Selanne for the playoff goal scoring lead.
Briere spent 18:37 on ice, which is the most of any forward. The only forward with more shifts than he was Mike Richards and Briere led the team in shots with six. He was everywhere tonight and if they awarded a Conn Smythe for the first round… Briere would be among the favorites.
James van Riemsdyk scored his fourth goal of the playoffs as he continues to grow in front of our eyes. JVR did take a step forward this year, but he’s taken a leap in these playoffs. He’s quickly turning into the kind of player we all hoped he’d be when he was drafted #2 overall.
The other scorers tonight where Villie Leino (3) and Dan Carcillo (2). Claude Giroux added a couple of assists and did a nice job in the faceoff circle and with the body, leading the team in hits tonight. Giroux is currently tied atop the lead in playoff scoring with nine points.
Buffalo fans will certainly be disappointed not only because the Sabres were unable to close out the Flyers despite having two chances to do so, but that their performance was so poor in this final game after they’d played so tough over the first six games. Even Ryan Miller, who looked invincible at times in this series, was pulled from the game less than two minutes after the start of the third period.
The Flyers on the other hand, proved once again that they’ve got a resiliency that few teams have and can’t be counted out until they’re officially eliminated. They overcame a pair of two goal deficits facing elimination in game six and overcame a 3-2 series deficit to advance. The magic that this team had after their historic comeback against Boston certainly seems to be back.
The Flyers will now await their next opponent, which will be determined in two game sevens tomorrow night. Pittsburgh/Tampa Bay and Canadiens/Bruins. The Flyers will play whichever of the higher seeds gets through, while the Washington Capitals face the lower seed. If the Bruins win, they get the Flyers.