Claude Giroux led the way with a goal and an assist as the Philadelphia Flyers edged the Buffalo Sabres 5-4 to tie their Eastern Conference quarter-final series 1-1 at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday evening.
Giroux opened the scoring with an impressive goal at the 4:00 mark of the first period. The Philadelphia centre knifed his way through the Sabres defence and fired a wrist shot over Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller’s shoulder to give the Flyers the early 1-0 lead.
The Sabres evened the score minutes later with a power-play goal courtesy of Vanek. The Sabres sniper had an empty net to shoot into as Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was sprawling outside of his crease.
Carcillo regained the lead for the Flyers, 2-1, with a rebound goal off of a Kris Versteeg shot. The Philadelphia tough guy’s goal came just 37 seconds after Buffalo had tied the game.
Vanek knotted the score 2-2 at 9:43 of the first period with his second power-play goal of the match.
The Flyers appeared to take their third lead of the evening midway through the first frame. Danny Syvret’s slap shot entered the net through the outside of the goal by squeezing through the mesh, voiding the apparent score.
Sekera gave Buffalo its first lead of the contest with a weak goal that signalled the end of the Bobrovsky’s night at 12:30 of the first period with the Sabres leading 3-2.
Bobrovsky allowed three goals on seven shots before Flyers coach Peter Laviolette saw enough and pulled him from the game. Veteran goaltender Brian Boucher entered the contest in relief of his shaken rookie teammate.
Boucher finished the game stopping 20 shots and his Buffalo counterpart Miller saved 29 in a losing effort.
The score was tied again with 6:46 remaining in the first period when van Riemsdyk cut into the centre of the ice off of the rush and snuck a quick shot past Miller, marking the sixth goal of a wild opening frame.
The pace of the play slowed down slightly in the second period of action, but the parade to the penalty box did not.
The first period saw 12 total penalties doled out and the second frame was no different with eight infractions whistled down in this heated matchup. In total there were 22 minor penalties on the night to go along with a fight between Paul Gaustad and Hartnell.
Leino ended the Flyers 0-for-7 power-play drought, 0-for-12 in the series, with a wrist shot from the left circle that handcuffed Miller and gave the Flyers a 4-3 edge with 6:24 remaining in the second period.
The Flyers power play continued to struggle against Buffalo, going 1-for-10 with the man advantage while the Sabres were 2-for-8.
At 15:27 in the second period Briere deflected in a Scott Hartnell shot with his foot to give the Flyers the first two-goal lead of the contest, a 5-3 advantage they carried into the third period. The goal stood as the eventual game-winner.
Buffalo’s McCormick pulled the Sabres within one goal with a backhanded shot set up by Rob Niedermayer 6:12 into the final frame of regulation time. That was as close as Buffalo would get though as the game ended 5-4.
The series now shifts to Buffalo tied 1-1 with Game three taking place on Monday at 7 p.m. on the Sabres home rink, the HSBC Arena.
Notes: Flyers defenceman Chris Pronger remains out of the lineup with a hand injury … The Flyers were 22-12-7 at home this season. The Sabres were 22-13-6 on the road … Philadelphia has four players on its roster with Stanley Cup rings (Pronger, Sean O’Donnell, Versteeg and Nick Boynton) while Niedermayer is the lone Sabre with a championship … Miller has two playoff shutouts in his career, both against the Flyers … Since the NHL lockout, the player with the most playoff points for the Sabres is current Flyer Briere.