Buffalo rookie Tyler Ennis scored his first and second career playoff goals, including the overtime winner, as the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Sabres now lead the best-of-seven series 3-2 as the Eastern Conference quarter-final matchup shifts to Buffalo for a pivotal Game 6, Sunday at 3 p.m.
Ennis buried a rebound off Philadelphia goalie Michael Leighton’s pads to end the game 5:31 into overtime.
Leighton, last year’s playoff hero, replaced Brian Boucher in the Flyers net and made 20 saves in his first action since December. Boucher was pulled after he allowed three goals in the first period on only 11 shots.
After falling behind early, the Philadelphia Flyers rallied to send the game into extra time.
Before Friday’s matchup Philadelphia captain Mike Richards and Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff traded verbal jabs.
It was Ruff’s team responding just 2:24 into the game as Ennis fought off a Nikolay Zherdev check and fired a bad angle shot past Boucher making it 1-0. The Sabres rookie surprised the Flyers netminder, who was cheating off his post.
Buffalo’s Vanek stunned the Philadelphia crowd with another bad angle goal, pushing the lead to 2-0 only 3:51 into the first.
The first ten minutes were a disaster for the Flyers as they were outshot 10-2. At 15:36 of the first it got worse for Philadelphia as Buffalo made it 3-0.
Gragnani fired his first career NHL post-season goal past Boucher, prompting Flyers coach Peter Laviolette to call on Leighton.
Early in the second period, the Sabres took back-to-back penalties, giving the Flyers an opportunity to cut the deficit. Miller stymied the Flyers on both power plays, keeping the score 3-0.
Philadelphia finally solved Miller as van Riemsdyk shovelled a rebound past the Buffalo netminder at 8:12 of the second, making it 1-0.
Two minutes later, Mezaros took a feed from Sean O’Donnell and shot it off Buffalo’s Myers into the net making it a one-goal game, 3-2.
The momentum shifted as the Flyers outshot the Sabres 15-5 in the second period.
Just 3:36 into the third period, Philadelphia completed the three-goal comeback, evening the score at 3-3. Kris Versteeg’s hard forecheck allowed Richards to find Briere in front of the net for his third goal of the series.
With 2:22 remaining in regulation, Jordan Leopold hooked down Zherdev, sending the Flyers to the power play. On the advantage, Giroux danced through the Buffalo defence but was robbed by Miller, keeping the score tied and sending the game into overtime.
Philadelphia’s Chris Pronger has yet to play in the series, as he continues to recover from hand surgery on March 8.
NOTES: Jason Pominville left the game late in the second period after being cut by the skate of van Riemsdyk … Carter is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury … Boucher made his third start of the series after replacing rookie Sergei Bobrovsky.