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Flyers Clinch Playoff Berth With 4-2 Win

Friday, 04.07.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
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Flyers Clinch Playoff Berth With 4-2 Win
The Philadelphia Flyers gained more than just a playoff berth against the Buffalo Sabres.

After the Flyers clinched a postseason spot Friday night with a 4-2 victory over the Sabres, Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock and his players agreed that a swagger - especially against potential playoff opponent Buffalo - is also starting to emerge.

"From a confidence standpoint, this helps us," Hitchcock said. "We know we can come in and play well in this building."

Philadelphia's last win in Buffalo was April 8, 2001. The Flyers were 0-6-1 since then. If the teams stay in their current positions, they would meet in the first round of the playoffs with the Sabres holding home-ice advantage.

The Flyers avoided a season sweep, salvaging one win in four games against the Sabres.

"This has been a difficult building for us," said Robert Esche, who made 20 saves. "This was a step in the right direction, especially if they are our first-round (opponent)."

Simon Gagne had a goal and two assists, and R.J. Umberger, Eric Desjardins, and Mike Knuble also scored for the Flyers, who closed within three points of the first-place New York Rangers in the Atlantic Division. The Flyers and Rangers each have six games left, with one matchup remaining on April 15.

Philadelphia also trails fourth-place Buffalo by five points in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.

"We have to face the fact that we might be back here in a couple of weeks," Knuble said. "This was all we could ask for."

Tim Connolly and Ales Kotalik scored for the Sabres, and Ryan Miller made 30 saves.

The Flyers jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 9:06. Umberger scored 1:32 into the game after taking a drop pass from Jeff Carter. Gagne made it 2-0 when he fired a slap shot from the high slot with the puck on its end.

"The game's not won in 10 minutes, but momentum can be earned," Miller said. "It took us a while for us to get back to where we wanted to be."

Buffalo cut the deficit to 2-1 as Connolly scored a power-play goal 59 seconds into the second period. He faked three Flyers before flipping a backhand shot over Esche's shoulder.

Philadelphia reclaimed its two-goal lead at 9:07, taking a 3-1 lead as Eric Desjardins scored on a slap shot from the right point.

"We got the lead and weren't chasing the game," Hitchcock said. "It allowed us to play our game a little bit better."

With 1:02 left in the second period, Kotalik fired a slap shot from just inside the blue line. It was his 25th goal, tying him with Chris Drury for the Sabres' lead and snapping his season-high, 12-game streak without a goal.

Buffalo's best chance to tie it came with about 6:30 to go in the third period. Daniel Briere was beside the Flyers net and failed to connect on a crossing pass.

Knuble scored an insurance goal with 4:10 to play, as Miller was focused on Joni Pitkanen, who delivered a pass to Knuble for a shot into an open net.

"We dug ourselves a hole, and we tried to dig ourselves out of it," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "We kept it close until late, but they didn't give up a lot. Our passing was awful and our shooting was worse."

Notes: Philadelphia played without forwards Peter Forsberg and Petr Nedved, who sat out with groin injuries. ... Ryan Potulny, the Flyers' third-round draft pick in 2003, made his NHL debut. He played on a line with Donald Brashear and Brian Savage. Potulny signed with Philadelphia last week after finishing his college career at the University of Minnesota. ... Buffalo trails Ottawa by eight points in the Northeast Division race. ... Knuble extended his goal streak to three games.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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