Flyers comeback in 5-4 OT win

By JAY BOEHMER
Senior Hockey Insider — jboehmer@highhopesblog.com
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Ville Leino celebrates his game-winning goal as the Flyers force a Game 7. (Courtesy Philly.com)

After another blown start thanks to the goaltending of Michael Leighton, the Flyers faced some serious adversity in overcoming an early deficit to beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-4 in OT.

Between last season and this season, this Flyers squad has shown that they can fight back. Unfortunately, their best doesn’t show until they’re facing such adversity, but the fact that they can turn it around so much when their backs are against the wall is remarkable.

What isn’t remarkable, though, is Leighton’s play in goal. Chances are, though, that we won’t have to worry about that anymore in this series.

Leighton looked like a child among men, letting in three terrible goals in the first period.

Danny Briere kept the Flyers alive with a clutch goal of his own, so the Flyers were only down 3-1 going into the second period – at which point Brian Boucher took over the net.

The Flyers had been the dominant team in the first, and only trailed because the Sabres managed three goals on only eight shots.

With Boucher in to settle the game and stem the scoring, the Flyers’ offense got a chance to retake the game.

James van Riemsdyk scored in the opening minute of the first, and Danny Briere scored later that period to tie the game at three apiece.

Buffalo countered, with Gerbe putting the Sabres back on top, but the Flyers scored in the seconds after a power play to knot it back up.

The Flyers and Sabres fought to a tie game, going into overtime, before Ville Leino crashed the net and buried a Kris Versteeg rebound to beat Miller and win the game.

There’s some big questions surrounding the Flyers right now – who starts Game 7? What’s the real status of Chris Pronger?

The obvious answer is that Leighton can’t be the starter in Game 7. It’s likely going to be Boucher. But should Leighton even ride the bench? Or should Bobrovsky make a return?

If the Flyers make it to the second round, does Bob come back to the starter position?

These are tough decisions, and with the way Laviolette has been shaping his lineup so far this series, it’s hard to predict which way it will go.

Chances are, though, that Leighton will remain on the bench. So let’s just hope that Boucher doesn’t give Laviolette a reason to pull him.

As for Pronger, who returned to the lineup as a seventh defenseman who only played the power play – logging less than five minutes – questions still remain.

Clearly he wasn’t healthy, but it seemed the better decision to keep him around – if only as a veteran presence – rather than an AHL call-up who would likely see even less ice time.

The fact that Pronger still isn’t cleared for regular play is concerning, but if the Flyers can make it through to the second round, he may be able to work his way back to his normal, minute-crunching self.

For now, the Flyers only have to worry about Game 7. They’re going back to Philadelphia, back in front of their home crowd, with one more game to win or lose.

If this team has shown anything, it’s that – questions be damned – they will fight to the last minute to win games like these. If they take the lead, they will scrap for every stop and defensive play. If they fall behind, they will drive and work for every offensive chance.

This team does not give up, and they know how to win in these situations.

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