Overreactions, Playoff Edition: Game 5

The night had “trainwreck” written all over it.

After storming out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, Buffalo allowed Philadelphia to chip away at it in the second and tie it up in the third. On the verge of a historic collapse, all it took was a rebound from a Mike Weber point shot being jammed home by rookie star-in-waiting Tyler Ennis at 5:31 of overtime to give the Sabres a 4-3 win in Game 5 and a 3-2 edge in the series.

Ennis opened the scoring early, banking a shot off of Brian Boucher and in. Thomas Vanek utilized the same maneuver, and Boucher was chased when he was beat by Marc-Andre Gragnani on the powerplay to give Buffalo a 3-0 lead. With goaltender Michael Leighton making his first appearance in months, James van Riemsdyk, Andrej Meszaros and Daniel Briere scored for Philadelphia to tie it back up and send it to overtime.

But in the end, it was the rookie who was the most dangerous player on the ice all night that came away the hero.

“I liked the fact that we were able to regroup,” coach Lindy Ruff said. “I told the team that we just needed to relax. We needed to make more plays, and we did a tremendous job.”

Buffalo did end up with a loss on the night, as Jason Pominville left with an injury that appears to be severe. The forward was clipped on the back of the leg by the skate of Philadelphia’s James van Riemsdyk and did not return. Anyone who remembers Slava Kozlov probably isn’t holding out much hope, but word is that Pominville didn’t hurt his achillies.

So now, Buffalo heads home with a chance to close out the series Sunday at HSBC Arena, and Philadelphia heads north wondering who they’re going to put in goal to save their season. Who’s ready for Game 6?

  • This series is the first time in Sabres playoff history that they’ve faced three different goaltenders in one series. They’ve chased the original starter many times, but Sergei Bobrovsky, Brian Boucher and Michael Leighton are now in the record books.
  • Thomas Vanek was named the second star of the game, but honestly, for most of the last part of the game, he looked to be laboring. His effort was there, but I don’t know if he suffered an injury and played through it or was just gassed. Sabres need him flying to be effective.
  • Anyone hear the Flyers whining about calls after this one? That second period should’ve been all they could’ve asked for, and then they got a gift powerplay near the end of regulation. They have no one to blame but themselves for having an atrocious powerplay this series.
  • Ryan Miller was again solid. Gave up three goals, but he’s carrying a .933 save percentage and a 2.18 goals against. Those are stats that should be enough to win you a series. No way you can blame him if the Sabres don’t advance.
  • Patrick Kaleta was extremely smart all night, made some good hits, but nothing questionable. Reacted well to the fact that eyes were on him.
  • What else can you say at this point about Marc-Andre Gragnani? Smart little wrist shot on the powerplay gets him his first playoff goal. Played over 22 minutes. Kid had fallen off the radar for a while, but does anyone see a lineup come October without him? Me neither.
  • Rob Niedermayer continues to be strong in this playoffs. Guy has come alive down the stretch. Must have gotten enough rest during the season. I banged on him all year for being awful, but he’s been good this month.
  • I don’t think it’s any coincidence that Jason Pominville went down and the Flyers were able to crawl back in it. He’s incredibly reliable defensively, and was surely missed killing those penalties in the second period.
  • You’d think the “short bench” would’ve hurt the Sabres, but the Flyers’ Zac Rinaldo played 1:59 and was on the bench all night. Defenseman Danny Syvret played 2:59. Philly would’ve gotten worn down by extended overtime as Buffalo would have.

Posted on April 23, 2011, in Sabres/NHL and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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