PHILADELPHIA -- Matt Read was denied on his first breakaway attempt. It wasn't going to happen a second time.
Read's breakaway goal with 4:21 left in the third period snapped a tie score and gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 2-1 win Thursday against the visiting Buffalo Sabres at Wells Fargo Center.
Marc-Andre Bourdon also scored for the Flyers, and goalie Ilya Bryzgalov made 25 saves in his second game back after missing a week with a chip fracture in his right foot.
The victory clinches fifth place in the Eastern Conference for the Flyers and locks them into a first-round matchup with the fourth-place Pittsburgh Penguins. The teams will meet in a series preview Saturday in Pittsburgh (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
Ville Leino scored the Sabres' lone goal and Ryan Miller made 33 saves, but the loss ends Buffalo's hopes of grabbing a spot in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Flyers trailed 1-0 entering the third period, but tied the game on Bourdon's goal and then went ahead on Read's NHL rookie-best 24th of the season.
Jakub Voracek flipped a puck out of the Flyers' zone that Read batted down and settle in the neutral zone. He squeezed between Sabres defenseman Robyn Regehr and the boards at the Buffalo blue line and went in alone on Miller.
In the first period, Read had a shorthanded breakaway, but Miller flopped onto his back as he poked the puck away from Read.
"When I was going in on the second one I was thinking he was going to poke check me again so I was waiting to soot the whole time and I just was waiting for an opening."
He found that opening between Miller's left pad and glove.
"I noticed his glove was a little high so I tried to get it over his pad and I think it hit the bottom of his arm and went in," said Read.
"I poke checked him earlier," said Miller. "I really thought he was going to go high with that shot, and he just put it underneath. I don't know if he was trying to do it or what, but if he was, it was a really nice shot. If not, good for him."
Regehr also believed he had a shot at making the play at the blue line.
"I just have to make the play," he said. "I saw the puck was being flipped and when it's that way you want to be aggressive … I have to do a better job and I lost that 1-on-1 and he ends up scoring the winning goal."
For a while it looked like Leino, the former Flyer, would get credit for the winning goal when he scored from in the crease with 2:34 left in the second period.
Regehr fired a slap pass from above the right circle to Drew Stafford just off the left post. Stafford settled the puck and deked Bryzgalov to create a seam, but his backhand attempt went through the crease and off the far post. Leino got inside position on Flyers defenseman Matt Carle and shoved the puck into the net for his eighth of the season.
It wouldn't last, though, as Bourdon one-timed an Andreas Lilja pass from above the right circle through traffic and past Miller at 6:05 of the third period.
The Flyers now have gotten a League-high 63 goals from rookies this season.
"They are rookies, but that's not how they're viewed," said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. "These are guys we're counting on. The playoffs are a game away. This whole year has been in preparation to get them ready for the playoffs. They've done a terrific job for us all season in helping us make the playoffs and be a successful team in the League."
The Sabres were expected to be one of the more successful teams in the League this season, but their season will end when they play game No. 82 Saturday in Boston.
"It's not a good thing," said Leino. "It's not a fun time right now. It's kind of really disappointing right now to end the season so early."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK