There were visions of Game 7 in Boston nearly a year ago in tonight’s game.
The Flyers were by no means under the gun in an elimination game, but were once again faced with the task of coming back from a three-goal deficit they fell into during the first period.
This team didn’t need to convince themselves they could do it, and neither did their coach.
Once again, James van Riemsdyk got the Flyers on the board. van Riemsdyk took a pass from Andrej Meszaros and swung around the crease to beat Miller, who had shut out the Flyers for four consecutive periods.
After Meszaros tallied just 1:45 later to bring the Flyers within one goal, Danny Briere tied it up at 3-3 early in the third period. Briere, as you might remember, scored the game-tying goal in Game 7 at Boston last year.
“I have a tremendous amount of confidence in the group in that room,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “At no point did I think we were going to lose the game tonight. Yet, we did. We are going back to Buffalo and we needed to win this next game anyway so nothing changes for us. We have to go Buffalo and win, period.”
In the end, however, it was all for not as Sabres’ forward Tyler Ennis tallied the game-winning goal in overtime to give Buffalo a 3 games to 2 series lead.
“We all have confidence in this room,” said Michael Leighton, who saw his first postseason action in tonight’s game. “It’s not like because we’re down we think we’re out now. We dominated that second and third period so we know we can beat this team. We just have to go into Buffalo and have that same attitude we did the second and third period and play desperate hockey and I’m sure we’ll do good."
Leighton came in relief of goaltender Brian Boucher, who allowed the game’s first three goals, and stopped 20 of 21 shots through two periods and overtime.
The Flyers will now head to Buffalo facing elimination to either go home for the summer or bring the series back to Philadelphia for the all-decisive Game 7.
Game 6 will be a nationally broadcast game on NBC beginning at 3 p.m. ET. You can also listen to the game on 610 WIP radio or philadelphiaflyers.com
|* The Flyers put 87 pucks towards the Buffalo net (39 on net, 29 that were blocked, 19 missed) compared to 50 for the Sabres (32 on net, eight blocked and 10 missed). That is a series high. The Flyers have put at least 60 pucks towards the net in four of the five games of the series.
* James van Riemsdyk posted a game-high eight shots on goal. He had five additional shots toward the net – two blocked and three that missed.
* Claude Giroux recorded a game-high six hits. He also posted two assists, was plus-1, had three shots on goal and three more that didn’t get there, and was 12 for 21 in the faceoff circle (57 pct).
* Andrej Meszaros had a goal and an assist, played a team-high 28:40, posted five shots on goal and recorded two hits.
* Every skater on Buffalo’s roster blocked at least one shot tonight except Patrick Kaleta.
* The Flyers are 6-10 in Game 6 when trailing a series 3-2 and are 2-14 in 16 series all-time in that situation. The two series they won were the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Boston and the 1989 Patrick Division Finals vs. Pittsburgh.
* Michael Leighton ended a shutout streak of 184:31 dating back to his last three games in the AHL with the Adirondack Phantoms. He recorded shutouts in his final two games with the club.
* Zac Rinaldo made his NHL debut in tonight's Game. He spent the entire 2010-11 season with the Flyers' AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Phantoms. He recorded 1:56 of ice time in three shifts and had three hits.
|"We are down 3-2 and I have said it before it doesn’t matter really. You can’t walk out of here and be happy with efforts. It is all about winning the games four games and doing it quicker than the oppositions. They’ve got the upper hand right now because they took a step and won the third game. Basically, we need to simplify it. We need to go to Buffalo, win one hockey game, and then come home.”
-- Peter Laviolette
“No, there’s a lot of character in this room and I think down 3-0, it’s not easy to come back. Guys just battled and I think the second period, I think we’ve got to find a way to play like that for 60 minutes.”
-- Claude Giroux
“I can look around the room at my teammates that were there and have proven they can rise when the desperation is needed. The guys we added were guys that have won Stanley Cups, so they know what it takes. We never thought it would be easy. This is a good challenge for us. We need to find a way to pull through. We’ve proven all year we can win on the road. We won one out of two already there, so we know we can win in Buffalo.”
-- Danny Briere
|Andrej Meszaros was the Flyers star for Game 5 after posting a goal and an assist and nearly 29 minutes of time-on-ice (28:40), to which he led all players in the contest.
He scored the team’s second goal midway through the second period to bring the Flyers to within one goal from tying the game 1:45 seconds after setting up James van Riemsdyk who scored the first goal for the Flyers.
Meszaros leads the Flyers defense in points and ranks second on the team during the postseason with a goal and three assists.
The turning point of the game came with the game-winning goal by Tyler Ennis. The goal officially says unassisted but a shot from the left wing by Mike Weber kicked out off of goaltender Michael Leighton and bounced right to Ennis coming down the right side who put it into a wide open net.
It was the first good scoring chance the Sabres had in the overtime session and for most of the second half of the game as the Flyers came back with a strong effort to tie it back up to force the extra session.
|UTZ PIC OF THE NIGHT: Fish-eye view of the Flyers crowd during warm-ups prior to Game 5
Sabres 4, Flyers 3, OT
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The Flyers had the stirring comeback.
The Sabres will take the win.
Tyler Ennis scored off a rebound 5:31 into overtime Friday night to give the Buffalo Sabres a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers and a 3-2 lead in the first-round series.
Mike Webber fired a slapper that knocked off Michael Leighton's pad. Ennis swooped in from the right side and scored his second goal of the game. The Sabres survived after blowing a 3-0 lead and can advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a victory in Game 6 on Sunday in Buffalo.
"All I know, is I wanted to score the winner," Ennis said. "I just wanted to be the guy who ended it."
Ennis opened the scoring in the first period, and Thomas Vanek and Marc-Andre Gragnani also scored in the period to chase Flyers starting goalie Brian Boucher. Leighton, who led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals a year ago, was flawless until overtime.
James van Riemsdyk, Andrej Meszaros and Danny Briere scored for the Flyers.