After the ceasefire of Game 1 and the free-for-all of Game 2, the 2011 Atlantic Division Champion Philadelphia Flyers finally showed some of that superior "will" we've heard so much about in Game 3.
Jeff Carter, Danny Briere, and Nikolay Zherdev gave the Flyers three goals in the first two periods (the Flyers never trailed), and strong defense and penalty killing preserved the lead long enough for Kimmo Timonen to seal the deal with a late empty netter for a 4-2 win.
Let's get straight to the Bullets over Buffalo (close enough):
Brian Boucher incurred the wrath of the Buffalo faithful in the third for taking off his dislodged mask during a Sabres 5-on-3, a mask that had to be immediately switched out for another because of a broken buckle. So yeah, nothing illegal there. Boucher was exactly what the Flyers needed tonight: steady, calm, and predictable (except a juicy rebound on the second Buffalo goal).
Of the 16 goalies currently getting the starting nod in the playoffs,Boucher's 18 career playoff wins is second only to Ryan Millera lot.
- Ryan Miller, the reigning Vezina Trophy holder, hasn't played anywhere near as well as he did in Game 1. For example, his strategy of trying to stop Briere's second goal by rolling around like a turtle flipped on its shell yielded poor results.
- I had been advocating for Nikolay Zherdev to get a playoff spot for a while now, and I'm more than happy to pat myself on the back after his GWG tonight. As you may have heard, goals win hockey games. Especially in the playoffs. Andreas Nodl won't have an easy time breaking back into this roster.
- Danny Briere plays real well in Buffalo. But you already knew that.
- JVR has been an absolute beast in this series, something you may have been clued into by his getting the #1 star when the Flyers were shut out in Game 1. He's finally using his size well, and playing some truly Primeau-esque type hockey out there. Fun to watch.
- I'm starting to get the hang of this whole Corsi thing. Sean O'Donnell, who was even in +/- on the night, was an atrocious -11 in Corsi (meaning that he was on ice for 11 more Buffalo shot attempts than Flyers shot attempts), and it showed. He's constantly a step behind, and should absolutely be the player going to the press box if and when Chris Pronger returns. Danny Syvret, on the other hand, played another real solid game, despite ending up a -1 in +/-. His Corsi was 0, which is very solid considering that the team was a -3 on the night. Syvret also continues to live up to his Offensive Dynamo reputation, continuing to create good look after good look for himself on the points. Want to fix the sputtering Flyer power play? More DSOD is the answer.
- Nathan Gerbe is hardly 5'5'' standing on top of a Zamboni, but he's one scrappy little dude out there. Definitely the Sabre who has most earned my respect this series. The one who has earned the least, Patrick Kaleta, left the game with some sort of injury after a hit from Braydon Coburn. He will not be missed (here, anyhow).
- Like we said pre-series, Buffalo's a pretty tough team and fanbase to hate on too strongly. The atmosphere inside and outside of HSBC Arena tonight looked pretty awesome tonight.
Knowing that the Flyers are the better team of the two is fine and all, but it's nice to have the series score reflect that finally. It's also nice to get home ice back.
After the jump, questions answered and a comment of the night.
Questions to Answer
- Boooooooooosh? 100% of you answered today's poll correctly. Congratulations.
- How's Nikolay Zherdev look tonight? Game winning goal. 'Nuff said.
- What boost does Leopold give the Sabres defensively? They got outscored, so presumably not much of one.
- Power play sucks. Anything? Carter's goal was on the power play, but was off of more of a rush than a real power play formation. Problems remain. The answer is #26.
- Buffalo acted like a bunch of pigs (re: dirty) on Saturday. More of the same (meaning lots of power plays for the Flyers, too, of course)? Eight penalties on the Flyers (including a double minor), five on the Sabres. Questionable calls in both directions.
Comment of the Night:
Holy shit… I think JVR just Kirby’d that Sabre. I don’t see him anymore. JVR ate him
Taking Game 4 would really put the salt on the Buffaslug. Do it, please. Go Flyers.