PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 26: Danny Briere #48 of the Philadelphia Flyers celebrates his second period goal against the Buffalo Sabres with teammates James van Riemsdyk #21 and Mike Richards #18 in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wells Fargo Center on April 26, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Sabres Vs. Flyers, Game 7: Philly Chases Ryan Miller, Cruises To Round Two With 5-2 Win

It took seven games, but the Philadelphia Flyers closed out the Buffalo Sabres in convincing fashion on Monday night with a blowout Game 7 victory.

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Chris Pronger, Power Play Key To Flyers Game 7 Victory Over Sabres

The Philadelphia Flyers have had an abysmal power play all season long, but in Game 7 against the Buffalo Sabres, it came up big when they needed it most.

Power play goals from Danny Briere and James van Riemsdyk in the second period lifted the Flyers 1-0 lead to a commanding 3-0 lead, and essentially put the game and season in severe doubt for the Sabres.

A big part of the power play success has been on the back of Chris Pronger. He still isn't up to par in terms of his hand injury and you can tell he's tentative when it comes to shooting the puck, but there's no underestimating his calming influence. 

"I think he helped us settle down," Danny Briere said after Game 7. "It was also something that we started talking about after Game 5. We realized that we were forcing too many plays instead of controlling the puck and taking the shots."

"I think early in the series you start pressing. You miss four, five, six, seven, it keeps building and you start pressing, then the crowd gets on us and you start taking bad shots. After Game 5 we started talking about just controlling the play a little more. Chris was coming back and obviously that's what he does so well. He's good at holding on to the puck and making the right play, the right decision, so he definitely helped us settle down in Games 6 and 7." 

For more on the Flyers, check in with Broad Street Hockey.


Sabres Vs. Flyers, Game 7 Final: Philly Scores At Will, Puts On Cruise Control En Route To Round 2

In terms of offensive control and attack, the Philadelphia Flyers were better than the Buffalo Sabres in just about every game of their first round NHL playoff series. Until Game 7, though, that wasn't necessarily apparent. 

But as soon as the puck dropped in the final game of this series, the Flyers took complete control. They kept the puck in the Buffalo end, threw shots at the Sabres net at will and limited Buffalo's chances at even cracking the blue line. Both James van Riemsdyk and Braydon Coburn each outshot the Sabres in the first period, and the Flyers as a team outshot Buffalo 16-2 in the opening frame.

Ryan Miller's bunch almost got out of it without a goal against, but in the final minute, Coburn threw a puck on net that hit Mike Grier in front and bounced through Miller's five hole. That bad break didn't help much, as the Flyers headed to the locker room with a lead they'd never look back on.

By the middle of the second period, the score was 3-0 on goals from Danny Briere and van Riemsdyk, and ultimately, a 4-0 lead would see the end of Miller's game -- and ultimately, his season. Buffalo avoided the shutout on two third period goals, but by then, the game was essentially over. 

Ironically, the horrific Philadelphia power play was a big reason why the game was won for them on Tuesday night. They scored two goals in 2:24 of power play time, while the Sabres only capitalized on their seven-plus minutes of power play time once the game was already decided. 

The Flyers move on to face either Boston, Pittsburgh or Tampa Bay in the second round, depending on what happens in the multiple Game 7's on Wednesday night. 


Sabres Vs. Flyers, Game 7: Philadelphia Scores Two In Second, Extends Lead To 3-0

We mentioned after the first period that the Buffalo Sabres would need to start controlling play in the Philadelphia Flyers end if they wanted to have a chance at winning Game 7 and advancing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Through another 20 minutes here at Wells Fargo Center, that's yet to happen.

The Flyers continued to pepper Ryan Miller and the Sabres with pucks in that second period, eventually turning their 1-0 lead into a 3-0 lead on power play goals from Danny Briere and Claude Giroux. In practice before Game 7, the Flyers turned their attention to putting more pucks on Miller, and they've executed that plan to a point so far in the game. Many of their 27 shots are off of second chance opportunities as well, and that's the kind of play that wears down the Buffalo defense and, of course, Miller.

On the other end, Buffalo hasn't put many pucks on Brian Boucher, only getting 14 through in the first 40 minutes of action. (The Flyers had 14 shots in the first period alone.) A big reason for that, though, is the Philly defense. They've blocked 23 shots through two periods, and Chris Pronger has led the way with five blocks -- broken hand and all.

The Sabres are going to need a goal early in the third if they want to have any hope of coming back in this Game 7, but with a little under a minute of power play time to start, that's more than possible. There's still 20 minutes of hockey to be played, and if Buffalo can turn the tide quickly, they still have a shot.


Sabres Vs. Flyers, Game 7: Braydon Coburn Scores Late, Caps Off Philly-Dominated First Period

The relentless pace of the first period of Game 7 between the Philadelphia Flyers and Buffalo Sabres was as exciting as hockey gets, and the feeling here at Wells Fargo Center was palpable. It's the first Game 7 in this building since 2003, and you can tell the fans are revved up extra tonight. Not that it takes a lot to get a Philly crowd going.

The orange-clad faithful loved that first 20 minutes of hockey, but if you're one of the few dressed in blue (or a member of the Sabres), you can't like the way things went. Ryan Miller held strong on 13 Flyers shots as Philadelphia completely dominated zone time, possession time and every other metric that can weigh the tilt of the ice during a hockey game.

It was the 14th shot, a blast from the point by Braydon Coburn off a faceoff win in the Buffalo end, that caught Miller napping a bit. In a way, it looked like one of the many poor goals the Flyers goaltenders have allowed in this series, and frankly, it's one of the first poor goals Miller has allowed in the series. 

For the Flyers, they have something to show for a period in which they allowed just two shots and barely even allowed their opponent to gain center ice, let alone the offensive zone. If you're the Sabres after one period, you have to feel lucky you're out of it with just a one goal deficit. 

If the Sabres want to win Game 7 and advance to face the Washington Capitals in the second round, they're going to have to start controlling play a bit.


Sabres Vs. Flyers, Game 7: Teams Battle For Right To Advance

There will be two Game 7's in the NHL on Tuesday night, and the first one will play out at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia as the No. 2-seeded Flyers host the No. 7-seeded Buffalo Sabres in the do-or-die, everything on the line final game of their first-round NHL playoff series.

Of course, the teams got to this point thanks to a furious Flyers comeback in Game 6, capped off by Ville Leino's overtime goal to send the series back to Philly. Buffalo originally got the big early lead in the contest thanks to some timely scoring, assisted by the atrocious goaltending of Michael Leighton.

For Game 7, it'll be Brian Boucher in the Flyers crease, while Leighton has reportedly been shoved all the way down to the fourth spot on the depth chart. Sergei Bobrovsky, the Flyers Game 1 starter, will be on the bench behind Boucher, while Johan Backlund and Leighton will watch from the stands.

The Sabres have a ton of injury concerns heading into the game. Derek Roy, who's been out since December, will return to the lineup, but there are questions about just how effective he will be as he wasn't very strong in the morning skate. Patrick Kaleta, who's been a thorn in the Flyers' sides all series long, will be out of the lineup with a hand issue. Jordan Leopold and Mike Grier are game-time decisions.

Tim Connolly and Jason Pominville are also out for the Sabres. Pominville left Game 5 in the first period after taking a skate to the back of the ankle and there's no timetable for his return. Connolly was injured on a hit from behind from Philly's Mike Richards in Game 6, and Lindy Ruff's bunch still isn't all that happy about the lack of suspension there.

It certainly feels like Philadelphia has the momentum and the confidence heading into the game, especially with all the injury concerns, but that certainly doesn't mean the Sabres will be going down easily. They'll be ready. It's Game 7.

Tonight's game can be seen on Versus in the United States and TSN in Canada at 7:30 p.m. ET. For more on the game, check in with our blogs: Broad Street Hockey for Flyers coverage, Die By The Blade on the Sabres. You can find full coverage here.      

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