NOT THIS TIME...
The Flyers were not about to let another comeback slip through their fingers given what happened less than 48 hours ago in Game 5.
“Most of the time you cave and when you have to do it back-to-back it becomes extraordinary,” said Laviolette. “I can’t tell you how impressed I am with the resiliency. Not just because of today but because we had to do it two games in-a-row.”
Ville Leino's overtime winner capped off a third Flyers comeback in Game 6 to push the series to the limit and force a Game 7 back at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night.
“I was happy. I was almost too excited because I think I missed [the puck] once and then I finally put it in so I got a lucky bounce there,” said Leino of his goal.
For a second straight game, the Flyers didn’t get off to the start they were looking for, falling into a 2-0 hole within the first nine minutes of play.
After what seemed to be a spark for the Flyers on Danny Briere’s goal to close the gap to 2-1, Thomas Vanek gave the Sabres another two-goal lead, this time with 33 seconds left in the first period to kill the Flyers momentum and give the Sabres’ a 3-1 lead.
The Flyers fought back to tie it at 3-3 around the midway point of the second period, but the Sabres once again put the Flyers behind the eight-ball by getting out to a 4-3 lead towards the end of the second period.
Scott Hartnell then capped the comeback and introduced himself to the series with his first goal to even the score at 4-4 and force overtime, setting the stage for Leino’s heroics.
If facing elimination wasn’t a test of character all by itself, then trailing multiple times in elimination games makes the victory even more special.
“You know what’s most impressive is to do it today. We just had to do it once and it’s draining,” added Laviolette. “To come back from two goals or three goals in the National Hockey League is not an easy thing to do.”
The Flyers battled for all 82 regular season games to earn home-ice advantage in the playoffs, never will it mean more than their next game when Game 7 returns to Philadelphia to see who moves on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
|* This was the Flyers’ third overtime win in a game in which they were facing elimination in the last four postseasons. Other two – 2008 ECQF, Gm 7, 3-2 at WSH; 2010 ECSF, Gm 5, 5-4 vs. BOS. They are now 29-34 all-time when facing elimination.
* The Flyers are 8-6 all-time in Game 7 of a series.
* The Flyers put 49 shots on goal and hit the 80-shot mark for the second consecutive game in terms of shots directed towards the net (49 on goal, 16 blocked, 15 that missed).
* The 49 shots on goal are the most for the Flyers in a playoff game since April 16, 2003 when the Flyers took a franchise-record 75 shots in a 3-2 triple overtime win over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
* James van Riemsdyk had 10 shots on goal today. That is the most for a Flyer in a playoff game since Dan McGillis had 11 on April 29, 2000 in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. Pittsburgh. Van Riemsdyk already was leading the league in shots during this playoffs, coming into the game with 28.
* Andrej Meszaros, the Flyers’ leader in TOI so far in the playoffs, played 31:03 today and blocked five shots.
* Chris Pronger played 4:33 today, all of it on the power play.
* Claude Giroux continued his solid all-around series today, contributing two assists, two shots, two hits, three blocked shots and going 13-for-30 on faceoffs.
* This series marks the first time the Flyers have started a game in one playoff series with three different goaltenders. The last time it happened with any team in the NHL was in the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals vs. Calgary Flames (Cloutier - Games 1, 2, 3) (Hedberg - Game 4) (Auld - Games 5, 6 & 7).
|“If you’re asking me whether I’d rather be here in Buffalo or if I’d rather be back with all of our great fans in Philadelphia, I’m going back to Philly.”
-- Peter Laviolette
“I think we just have confidence in one another at whatever time of the game it is and what the situation is. Obviously tonight our season was on the line, so we just wanted to throw it all out there and save nothing for tomorrow.”
-- Mike Richards
“I think we’ve shown heart and character from the outset of the season. Obviously you go through a lot of ups and downs and a lot of adversity and we’ve always seemed to come through in the clutch.”
-- Chris Pronger
“We try to get it done whatever way we can, and I know from playing against them last year, they’re going to get it done any way they can and I don’t think that’s going to change.”
-- Kris Versteeg
|The Flyers star of the game is ummm, let’s see… yeah that would be Ville Leino.
Leino banged home a rebound 4:43 into overtime to give the Flyers life and force a Game 7.
Fitting that Leino would end the game. He had two points on the night and helped kick off the Flyers comeback by assisting on Danny Briere’s first goal to cut the Sabres lead to 2-1 in the first period.
Leino played over 18 minutes and had two shots on goal, but was a +2 on the night for the Flyers. The game-winner was his third game-winning goal in the playoffs as a Flyer.
The turning point in today’s game occurred early in the second period when James van Riemsdyk scored to cut it down to a 3-2 Sabres lead.
Having gone down 2-0, followed by Briere’s goal making it 2-1, Buffalo tallied late in the 1st period to give the Sabres a two-goal advantage once again. It would be their last.
Van Riemsdyk’s goal was the second of what turned out to be three comebacks the Flyers would accomplish in the game to pull of the overtime victory, but most importantly it crushed the Sabres’ hope of running away with a victory.
|UTZ PIC OF THE NIGHT: Ville Leino celebrates after his Game 6 overtime goal.
Flyers 5, Sabres 4, OT
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Ville Leino scored 4:43 into overtime and Brian Boucher's return in yet another relief appearance sparked the Philadelphia Flyers to force Game 7 in their first-round playoff series against the Buffalo Sabres.
Danny Briere scored twice and Boucher stopped 24 shots over the final two periods and overtime in a 5-4 victory on Sunday in what's been a tightly contested and topsy-turvy series that heads to the deciding game at Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Boucher took over to start the second period after Michael Leighton allowed three goals on the first seven shots he faced. Scott Hartnell had a goal and assist and James van Riemsdyk also scored for the Flyers, who overcame a two-goal deficit while drawing upon Chris Pronger's presence.
The gritty defenseman played sparingly in his game after missing 21 with a broken right hand.
Thomas Vanek scored twice for Buffalo, while Rob Niedermayer and Nathan Gerbe also scored.
Kris Versteeg helped set up Leino's goal. After getting his first shot blocked, Versteeg gained the rebound and flipped the puck at the Sabres net, bouncing it off several players. The puck fell in the crease where Leino - a step ahead of defender Chris Butler - slid it into the open side behind diving goalie Ryan Miller.