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Sabres Flown Over on Friday

Friday, 04.07.2006 / 12:00 AM / News
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Sabres Flown Over on Friday
The Buffalo Sabres could have all but clinched home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs with a victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Buffalo will have to wait for another day to make HSBC Arena their first stop on the team's playoff tour as turnovers and undisciplined play led to a 4-2 loss to Philadelphia on Friday night.

"I thought we did a very poor job with the puck tonight," head coach Lindy Ruff said. "We didn't make a lot of plays, gave a lot of pucks away, didn't put pucks in good areas and we turned a lot of pucks over."

"Today, we didn't make too many good decisions," added Ales Kotalik, who brought Buffalo to within a goal late in the second. "We weren't getting pucks deep or using our strength as a team."

Buffalo now leads the Flyers in the Eastern Conference standings by five points. If Philadelphia wins their remaining six games, Buffalo will need to secure seven of a possible 10 points to clinch home ice.

"We tried to battle back," said Ruff. "They played a more disciplined game than they have played in the past, they stayed away from penalties and they had better legs than us."

Both of Buffalo's goals came in the second period, despite the team managing only six shots on goal. Tim Connolly scored Buffalo's first goal less than a minute in, while Ales Kotalik ended a 13-game goal-scoring drought with his 25th of the season with less than three minutes remaining.

"I'm still playing my game," said Kotalik of the drought. "I decided I wasn't going to change anything. I just kept trying to find holes and get good shots. Lately, I was missing the net with those shots or they had been getting blocked. That didn't happen before when I was in a goal streak."

Goaltender Ryan Miller was beaten with the first shot he saw and gave up a 2-0 lead ten minutes into the game, but backstopped Buffalo to within a goal of Philadelphia twice. Miller finished the game with 30 saves.

"It would have been nice to put together a string," said Miller. "We'll just have to go back to work and identify things we need to work on."

Jeff Carter feathered a backhand pass to RJ Umberger, who scored on Philadelphia's first shot on goal 1:32 into the game. Umberger out skated Dmitri Kalinin to the net and redirected the feed just inside the right post for his 17th goal of the season and a 1-0 Flyers lead.

Simon Gagne doubled Philadelphia's lead with a blazing slapshot from the top of the right face-off circle. With time to shoot, Gagne fired over Miller's right shoulder for his 44th goal of the season and third against the Sabres in as many games at 9:06.

Starting the second with 1:42 remaining in Frederick Meyer's high sticking penalty, Buffalo wasted no time in cutting Philadelphia's lead to a goal. Stopping a clearing pass at the blueline, Connolly turned Eric Desjardins inside out with some nifty stickhandling and beat Robert Esche with a backhander top shelf in very close quarters for his 13th goal of the season 59 seconds into the period.

Desjardins would claim his revenge with his fourth goal of the season at 9:07. With Derek Roy in the penalty box for hooking, the defenseman blasted a slapshot from the right point that found its way through traffic and into the back of the net.

With his first goal in 13 games, Kotalik brought Buffalo to within a goal again. Stationed at the left point, Kotalik one-timed Maxim Afinogenov's pass underneath the left pad of Robert Esche for his 25th goal of the season at 17:58 of the second.

Joni Pitkanen skated around the left wing and fed Mike Knuble on the far post. Knuble stuffed the puck past Miller for his 33rd goal of the season and a 4-2 Philadelphia lead at 15:50.
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SCORING REPORTS
Scoresheet | Super Stats | Faceoff Comp | Play By Play | Shift Chart

GAME BLOG:
Period 1
0-1 (1:32): With their first shot on goal, Jeff Carter feathered a backhand pass to RJ Umberger, who redirected the feed just inside the right post for his 17th goal of the season. Carter and Nicholas Dimitrakos get the helpers.

0-2 (9:06): Simon Gagne fires a slapshot from the top of the right face-off circle over Ryan Miller's right shoulder for his 44th goal of the season and a two-goal Flyer lead. The tally is Gagne's third against Buffalo this season, tying him for the Flyer lead with Mike Knuble. Mike Richards and Knuble get the assists.

Period 2
1-2 (0:59): With the Buffalo man advantage, Tim Connolly stopped a clear pass at the blueline, turned Eric Desjardins inside out with some stickhandling and beat Robert Esche with a backhander top shelf in very close quarters. The goal is unassisted.

1-3 (9:07): Eric Desjardins' slapshot from the right point found its way through traffic and into the back of the net. The power play goal is Desjardins' fourth of the season. Frederick Meyer and Gagne get the helpers.

2-3 (17:58): With his first goal in 13 games, Ales Kotalik brought Buffalo to within a goal. Stationed at the left point, Kotalik one-timed Maxim Afinogenov's pass underneath the left pad of Robert Esche for his 25th goal of the season. Afinogenov and Rory Fitzpatrick get the helpers.

Period 3
2-4 (15:50): Joni Pitkanen skated around the left wing and fed Mike Knuble on the far post. Knuble stuffed the puck past Miller for his 33rd goal of the season. Pitkanen and Simon Gagne get the helpers.

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