Flyers Fight Back, But Fall Short In Overtime

After falling in a 3-0 hole before the end of the first, the Flyers fought back to tie it at three only to lose in overtime. Tyler Ennis opened the scoring and closed the scoring for the game netting the overtime winner 5:31 past regulation. Ryan Miller had 36 saves while Michael Leighton (yup, that Michael Leighton) gets the loss in a relief appearance for Brian Boucher.

Nothing takes the energy out of the home crowd faster than an early soft goal. Ennis let the Flyers experience that with a weak shot to Boucher’s right that found it’s way in 2:24 into the game. The goal wasn’t Boucher’s only mistake.

Thomas Vanek extended the Sabres lead to two just 1:27 later as his shot along the goal-line to Boucher’s left hit the netminder in the back of the leg and in. Boucher, one who usually keeps his team calm and collected, put his team in a 2-0 hole early.

The damage wasn’t done for the Flyers as Marc-Andre Gragnani scored on the power play later in the period. Gragnani’s marker with the man advantage forced Peter Laviolette to bring in Michael Leighton. Boucher allowed three goals on 11 shots.

Keeping the Sabres off the scoresheet for the remainder of the first, the Flyers kept the deficit to three entering the second period. Starting to create several offensive chances, the Flyers finally capitalized halfway through the period. Controlling the rebound from an Andrej Meszaros, James van Riemsdyk slipped it past Miller who was outside of the crease. JVR’s craftiness opened the door for the Flyers to comeback.

After helping his team score their first goal on the night, Meszaros netted one himself. Just 1:45 after JVR’s goal, Meszaros let go of a bomb that found it’s way through traffic and into the net to cut the Sabres’ lead to one.

The comeback wasn’t complete yet, but the Flyers were coming closer by the second. Entering the final period of the play, the Flyers were still trailing by a goal after out shooting the Sabres 15-5 in the middle stanza.

It didn’t take too much time for the Flyers to tie it up in the third as Danny Briere scored 3:36 into the period. As Kris Versteeg fell to the ice behind the Sabres’ net, he found a way to slide the puck to Mike Richards, who then passed it across the ice to Briere. Receiving the pass, Briere rushed to the net and put home a backhander past Miller to tie the score at three.

Despite several scoring chances and forcing Buffalo to ice the puck several times, the Flyer couldn’t find the game-winner in regulation as the game was sent into overtime.

Starting off the overtime how they ended the third period, the Flyers pressured the Sabres in the defensive zone early forcing the Sabres to ice the puck multiple times in a row. Unfortunately, Philly’s hard work didn’t pay off.

On just their third shot in overtime, the Sabres found the back of the net to take a 3-2 series lead. Mike Weber ripped a slap shot from the point that Leighton kiced right to the stick of Ennis for his second goal on the night.

The goaltending carousel continued tonight as Leighton found ice time tonight saving 20 of 21 shots. Saving all 18 shots in regulation, Leighton’s only mistake on the night was his rebound on Weber’s shot. Not too bad for a guy who only played in one game this year spending most of the season with the Phantoms.

One has to feel bad for Boucher. After leading his team to victory in Games 2 and 3, Boucher just didn’t bring his game tonight. Yes, he also lost Game 4, but he allowed only one goal that most goalies in the league couldn’t stop. In the most impactful game of the series so far, Boucher essentially spotted the Sabres’ a two-goal lead. Is his confidence shot? Does Sergei Bobrovsky find his way to the bench next game?

Since there was so much criticism aimed in their direction last game it’s only fair to point out how well the officiating was tonight. Obviously, there were some calls the Flyers wished would have gone their way, but the game was called fairly both ways. After not standing a chance in Game 4 due to the officials, the Flyers didn’t face a second opponent in the refs tonight.  

Notes: Matt Carle, despite making several sound defensive plays, was a -2 tonight. JVR had a game-high 8 shots. Briere had a game-high four PIM. Gragnani now has one goal and four assists in the series.