2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs – First Round Series Recap
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 3 - Philadelphia 4, Buffalo 2 - Flyers lead series, 2-1
Brian Boucher came up big on the road in the postseason exactly when his team needed a step-up performance between the pipes. Philadelphia Flyer fans have seen this movie before, and they’re very glad they got to catch a re-air of a feel-good movie which premiered last spring for the Orange Crush of the National Hockey League.
This Eastern Conference quarterfinal series has turned into a goalie-dominated series. Game 3 was no different at HSBC Arena in Buffalo. Boucher, who won a huge road game last year when the Flyers faced elimination at Boston in Game 5 of the second round (trailing 3-1 in the series), produced another huge road win for his team in 2011. Boucher stopped 35 shots that the Sabres threw at him. The Flyers’ old and new starting goalie helped the second seed take a lead in the series and regain home-ice advantage with Game 4 on the horizon.
The biggest key to this game was Philadelphia’s ability to neutralize a 5-on-3 Buffalo advantage in the third period. The Sabres initiated their offense just inside the blue line, perhaps out of fear that Philadelphia would get a short-handed breakaway in the opposite direction. The Sabres tried to create the perfect goal, often trying to wrap-around the puck inside the post after skating behind the net, but an alert Boucher was always able to block off the post with his body and his pads. The Sabres, especially Tyler Ennis, could not succeed in jamming the puck through a small aperture in the goal mouth; Boucher regularly sealed the gap, and after the 5-on-3 was snuffed out, the Sabres didn’t get better scoring chances. Philadelphia’s Kimmo Timonen ended the game for good on an empty-netter with 18 seconds left.
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Before Philly finished off the win with gritty third-period defense, it had to build a lead in the first place. Danny Briere and Nikolay Zherdev came up big for the newest incarnation of the Broad Street Bullies by scoring second-period goals to create a 3-1 lead for the Flyers. Briere scored at the 2:24 mark while Zherdev scored at the 16:44 mark.
Jeff Carter scored the first goal of the game with 4:42 gone in the first period to immediately take the air out of the balloon in Buffalo, where Sabres fans were wanting to blow the doors off HSBC Arena and give the seventh seed an extra forward push. Sabres Goalie Ryan Miller had 22 saves but hasn’t been able to find his magic since Game one when he had 35 saves. He allowed the Flyers to score within the first five minutes of the contest and carry over the momentum they established in their Game 2 win last Saturday.
As for Buffalo, Drew Stafford and Nathan Gerbe scored in a contest the Sabres never led. Stafford scored on the power play at 11:55 mark of the first period while Gerbe scored at the 18:12 mark of the second stanza.
By: Matt Zemek
ProHockey-fans.com Staff Writer
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