Sabres blank Flyers, tie series 2-2

Ryan Miller (Ryan Miller)

Ryan Miller earned his second shutout of the series to lead the Buffalo Sabres to a 1-0 series-tying win over the Philadelphia Flyers at the HSBC Arena on Wednesday night.

Losing Game 2 and 3 to the Flyers were the first consecutive losses for Buffalo since February but the Sabres weren’t about to lose three-straight matches, especially if Miller had any say in the matter.

The Sabres goaltender stopped 32 shots to blank the Flyers for the second time in this best-of-seven series.

Flyers netminder Brian Boucher was solid in the loss, turning away 28 shots.

Sabres winger Jason Pominville scored the game’s only goal when he chipped a Rob Niedermayer pass behind Boucher at 9:38 of the first period. Niedermayer neatly slid the puck through the Flyers crease to a well prepared Pominville to set up the goal and give Buffalo an early 1-0 lead.

The goal was the first of the series for Pominville, who was third in scoring for Buffalo during the regular season with 22 goals and proved to be the game winner in Buffalo’s second 1-0 victory of the series.

FLYERS – SABRES BOX SCORE

The home crowd was nervously silent to start a playoff game despite a strong start from the Sabres. Buffalo led in shots 12-9 and hit two goal posts in a dominant opening frame.

Flyers sniper Jeff Carter and Sabres sophomore defenceman Tyler Myers collided late in the first and both appeared to be labouring when they left for their respective locker rooms.

Myers returned for the second period but Carter remained out of action for the rest of the night.

The second period was rather uneventful aside from a 4-on-4 opportunity created by off-setting penalties to Flyers agitator Dan Carcillo and Buffalo’s Miller that produced scoring chances for both teams.

Philadelphia outshot Buffalo 10-8 in the middle frame with both goalies standing strong between the pipes and neither team being able to find the back of the net.

Flyers captain Mike Richards was assessed a five minute elbowing penalty for a shot to the chin of Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta seconds before the second stanza ended.

Kaleta was a questionable member of the Sabres roster in Game 4 after he missed most of Game 3 after leaving with an apparent upper-body injury resulting from being upended by Flyers defenceman Braydon Coburn.

Despite his pleas of innocence regarding the play where he appeared to be bracing himself for a big hit from Kaleta, Richards found himself in the box and the Sabres earned a lengthy man-advantage to start the third period.

The Flyers penalty killing unit, which was decisive to their Game 3 victory, managed to confidently kill the entire five minute Sabres power play to the relief of their captain Richards.

Flyers forward Danny Briere had a glorious scoring chance with 8:50 remaining in the third period, all alone in front of Miller. Quickly stick handling side-to-side before putting a shot on net, Briere was robbed by Miller with a clutch glove save.

Philadelphia’s Boucher responded with a huge save of his own on Sabres rookie Tyler Ennis breakaway moments later.

Before the dust could settle from the Boucher save, Miller once again raised the bar by stoning Richards on a point blank opportunity to preserve the 1-0 lead for the Sabres.

The Flyers brought intense offensive pressure as time expired but Buffalo held on to win as fights broke out as the final buzzer sounded.

In the previous six playoff meetings between Buffalo and Philadelphia, the team who takes s a 2-1 lead in the series has advanced to the next round every time, a stat that favoured the Flyers heading into Game 4.

Game 4 showed Miller and the Sabres don’t care what the record books forecast.

With the series tied 2-2, the puck drops at 7:30 p.m. for Game 5 on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, a meeting that is sure to be a bitterly contested matchup.