Philadelphia, PA – Peter Forsberg scored two goals in the second period and Brian Savage and Simon Gagne also tallied as the Flyers defeated the Buffalo Sabres in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, 4-2.
With the win, the Flyers now trail the best-of-seven series two-games-to-one.
The Flyers applied good pressure and totaled 17 shots on goal in the second period, and Forsberg scored a couple of goals to put Philadelphia ahead 3-1 at the intermission.
With the game tied at 1-1, the Flyers got a bad break when a puck that was bouncing in the crease was whistled dead by referee Brad Meier just before Forsberg swiped it in early in the middle frame. Soon after, Mike Richards hit the post on a shorthanded two-on-one rush with Simon Gagne.
Just when it looked like the Flyers could not catch a break, they got a fortunate bounce when Forsberg had the puck knocked away from him by Brian Campbell and bounced off of Jay McKee's skate and over Ryan Miller to give Philadelphia its first lead in the series at 6:57.
"I was just trying to throw it at the net and hope it hit something," said Forsberg.
Forsberg's second of the night was also on a deflection, although this one was done on purpose by the Flyers' center. Behind the net, Forsberg bounced the puck off of defenseman Dmitri Kalinin before it hit Miller and landed over the goal line at 12:37.
"We definitely got a break or two. But maybe that's what we needed to get going," said Derian Hatcher.
The Sabres did not go quietly, however, cutting the Philadelphia lead to 3-2 in early in the third period on a nice passing play. Maxim Afinogenov began the play by backhanding the puck towards the slot, where Dimitri Kalinin tipped it to Tim Connolly for a goal at 4:44.
The Flyers' penalty-killing unit was put to the test after that when Petr Nedved was called for successive penalties for hooking at 9:42 and tripping at 12:05. Buffalo was unable to convert, and finished the night 0-for-7 with a man advantage.
Gagne capped the scoring with an empty net goal at 19:44. Game Four is on Friday night at the Wachovia Center.
"Philadelphia is a very tough place to play," said Mike Knuble, referring to the sold out home crowd. "I played here for years before I came here. The fans are loud and the building is a tough place to play for the other team."
The teams traded goals in the first period as Ales Kotalik's turn-around wrist shot snuck through the five-hole of Robert Esche but Brian Savage netted the equalizer on a shorthanded slap shot that beat Miller to the short side.
"It brought the building alive again and it brought our bench alive," said Ken Hitchcock of the goal by Savage. "I think that was the biggest goal in the series. That goal brought everyone back in the game and brought our team back in the game."
Buffalo allowed 17 shorthanded goals during the regular season, the second-highest total in the league.
It was clear from the start that the Flyers aimed to set a physical tone in the game, and Forsberg led the charge. He was whistled for charging at the five-minute mark, but that did not deter him as later in the period a forearm to the chest on defenseman Paul Gaustad while Gaustad was trying to check him sent the Sabres' defenseman to his backside.
Esche finished the night with 26 saves while Miller recorded the loss stopping 23 of 26 Flyers shots.
"Friday will be no different. We're going to be the home team, and we're going to have to come out and work hard," said Esche.
"We had to respond after what happened in Game Two in Buffalo," said Hitchcock, referring to the team's 8-2 loss on Monday. "We played better and we played the way we have to play to win."
FLYERS NOTES The Flyers are 7-16 when trailing two-games-to-one in a best-of-seven series. … Scratched players for Philadelphia included Donald Brashear, Ben Eager and Turner Stevenson. R.J. Umberger, who missed Game Two with a broken nose, was back in the lineup. … Buffalo right wing J.P. Dumont, who scored three goals in Game Two, had to be helped off of the ice late in the second period after getting stick to the midsection by Denis Gauthier but returned for the third period. … Every fan in attendance received an orange t-shirt, as the Flyers' playoff record improved to 4-0 during the "orange crush."