Boucher, Flyers turn back Sabres
BUFFALO, NY With his mask on, and for a brief moment without it, goalie Brian Boucher provided the Philadelphia Flyers the steadying presence they were looking for to gain an edge in their first-round playoff series against the Buffalo Sabres.
Boucher stopped 35 shots as the Flyers’ new starter to lead them to a 4-2 victory and grab a 2-1 series lead Monday night.
It was Boucher’s first start and second straight win of the series after he stopped 20 of 21 shots in relief of rookie Sergei Bobrovsky in a 5-4 victory in Game 2 on Saturday.
That was enough to convince Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, who was rewarded for his decision to stick with “Booosh,” the team’s most experienced goalie.
“He just settled things down,” Laviolette said. “At the game’s start, he had a calming presence about him. ... To get a veteran presence in there made a big difference.”
Boucher’s calmness was particularly apparent eight minutes into the third period with Flyers clinging to a 3-2 lead and attempting to kill off Buffalo’s two-man advantage. Boucher slid across to his left and lunged forward to stop Tyler Ennis, whose shot hit the left side of the goalie’s mask and broke a strap. Without hesitation, Boucher pulled off his mask to stop the play.
Though fans booed Boucher and yelled for officials to call a delay of game penalty, the goalie was content in knowing he did the right thing.
“The mask was loose, and I felt it was kind of unsafe because the mask was kind of moving around on my face,” Boucher said.
Danny Briere and Nikolay Zherdev keyed the victory by scoring second-period goals as Philadelphia bounced back after a 1-0 series-opening loss Thursday.
Jeff Carter and Kimmo Timonen, with an empty-netter, also scored as the Flyers improved to 6-0-2 in their past eight visits to Buffalo, including the regular season.
Drew Stafford and Nathan Gerbe scored in a game the Sabres never led. Buffalo has lost consecutive games for the first time since ending a three-game skid Feb. 23.
n Bruins 4, Canadiens 2—David Krejci and Nathan Horton scored first-period goals to lead Boston over Montreal as the Bruins won on the road after dropping the first two games of their first-round series at home.
Tim Thomas stopped 34 shots for Boston and Rich Peverley scored in the second. Chris Kelly scored into an empty net with 25.6 seconds remaining.
n Penguins 3, Lightning 2—At Tampa, Fla., Tyler Kennedy put Pittsburgh ahead early in the third period and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 25 shots, helping the Penguins hold off the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Maxime Talbot and Arron Asham also scored for the Penguins, who took a 2-1 lead in their first-round Eastern Conference best-of-seven playoff series and regained home-ice advantage. Game 4 is Wednesday night in Tampa.
Pittsburgh rebounded from a 5-1 home loss in Game 2 despite giving up two more power-play goals to Martin St. Louis.
The Lightning star erased a 2-0 deficit by striking late in the opening period, then again early in the third to give Tampa Bay hope of taking control of the series.
But Kennedy answered with the go-ahead goal just 31 seconds later.