BUFFALO, NY - APRIL 20: Goalie Ryan Miller #30 and Jordan Leopold #3 of the Buffalo Sabres defend against James van Riemsdyk #21 and Jeff Carter #17 of the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at HSBC Arena at HSBC Arena on April 20, 2011 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

Flyers Vs. Sabres, Game 4: Ryan Miller Holds Off Philly Attack, Allows Buffalo To Even Series

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Flyers Vs. Sabres, Game 4: Ryan Miller, Buffalo Defense Shut Out Philly, Even Series At 2

Ryan Miller was fantastic yet again for the Buffalo Sabres as they held off the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 4 of their first round NHL playoff series, 1-0, to even the series as we head back to Philly for Game 5. 

Jason Pominville scored the lone goal of the game on a tap-in right along the goal line about midway through the first period. At that point, the Sabres were all over the Flyers, as they came out flying right from the opening puck drop. As it turned out, that was the deciding factor in the game, as Miller and the Sabres defense just proved too difficult to crack.

In that sense, Game 4 felt a whole lot like Game 1, where the Sabres also won 1-0. The Sabres clogged the crease, limited those cross-ice passes the Flyers like to use to get Miller moving, and just generally weathered a strong, fierce Philadelphia storm that lasted for much of the latter half of the game.

Perhaps the biggest save of the game came on Danny Briere in the third period, when Miller was face-to-face with his old teammate in a one-on-one battle. Briere tried to open him up with some stick moves, but ultimately Miller got his glove on the puck as Briere went to lift it over him.  

It's a series again, and now we're locked in a best-of-three beginning on Friday night in Philadelphia. If Miller can play like he did in Game 4, it could be another frustrating night for the Flyers. 


Flyers Vs. Sabres, Game 4: Defense Reigns Supreme In Second Period; Buffalo Still Up, 1-0

The officials have been in control of this series between the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers from the outset, but at the end of the second period of Game 4, referee Francois St. Laurent made perhaps the loudest statement of them all.

Mike Richards got his elbow up as he endured a hit from Patrick Kaleta with just two seconds left in the period, and St. Laurent called Richards for that elbow. Instead of the expected two minute minor, though, Richards will be in the box for five minutes to start the third period. 

With the Flyers down 1-0 after a second period that saw few quality scoring chances in either direction, the kill is obviously huge for their hopes of winning Game 4. If they can kill off the major penalty to their captain (one of their best penalty killers), they'll obviously hold a ton of momentum for the final 15 minutes of regulation.

If Buffalo scores a goal or maybe even more than one, this game is likely all but over. It'll certainly be interesting to see what happens. This could be the turning point of the series right here. 


Flyers Vs. Sabres, Game 4: Jason Pominville Earns Buffalo Early Lead; 1-0 Score After 1 Period

There's no way the Buffalo Sabres want to head back to Philadelphia in Game 5 with a 3-1 series deficit in their face, and they know to beat the Flyers, they needed to come out hard at the start of Game 4. That's exactly what they did early in the hockey game, as they created chances, held the puck and generally outplayed the Flyers for the early portion of the period.

That play led to a tap-in goal for Jason Pominville just about midway through the period, giving the Sabres the all-important first goals of the game. 

It was another period dominated by special teams, as each team committed two minor infractions a piece. The officials are certainly calling the game tight, and fans of both teams will likely tell you that they're calling it a little too tight. Nevertheless, special teams have been a big part of this series so far and will likely be just as vital going forward.

The strong start to the period ended with a bit of a poor ending for the Sabres, as the Flyers turned things around a bit towards the end of the period with sustained zone time. Ryan Miller has been solid, but a Tyler Myers play in front of an open net saved a tying goal towards the end of the period. 

Myers and Jeff Carter collided in the Buffalo end about two minutes before the end of the period. Both went back to the locker room, and Myers looked worse off than Carter. Quite dazed. Needless to say, the loss of Myers would be huge for the Sabres.


Flyers Vs. Sabres, Game 4: Ryan Miller Hopes To Keep Buffalo In Series

It's been a close NHL playoff series so far between the Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres, but the Flyers have been just a hair better, using solid play from Brian Boucher, a strong penalty kill in Game 3 and all-around dominance at even strength to jump out to a 2-1 season lead.

If that stays the same, the Flyers have a very good chance at taking a commanding series lead back to Philadelphia for Game 5 on Friday. In order to stop that, Buffalo needs a few things to click.

For starters, Ryan Miller needs to be better. He wasn't particularly strong in Games 2 or 3, and it's an easy argument to say that he was the only reason the Sabres won Game 1. If he can duplicate that Game 1 performance, the Sabres have more than a chance in the rest of the series. If he can't, the offensive depth of the Flyers could be overwhelming.

The Sabres aren't too deep offensively, and that's all the more reason why they need guys like Tim Connolly and Drew Stafford to get on the board. Without contributions from those guys, it's hard to imagine the Sabres pulling off the upset in Game 4 or the series on the whole.

There's a lot of room for improvement for Buffalo, and it has to begin on Wednesday night as they host the Flyers. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. ET.

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