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Boucher, Flyers go for third straight over Sabres

by Adam Kimelman

(Philadelphia leads best-of-seven series, 2-1)


Big story:
Brian Boucher followed his strong relief effort in Game 2 by stopping 35 shots to backstop the Flyers to a 4-2 win in Game 3. Nikolay Zherdev, a healthy scratch for the first two games of the series, scored the game-winning goal late in the second period.
Team Scope:

Much of the news surrounding Philadelphia has been the absence of All-Star defenseman Chris Pronger while he recovers from a broken hand. However coach Peter Laviolette repeatedly has said he's happy with the way his team is playing defensively. He called the Flyers' 1-0 loss in Game 1 the tightest defensively his team has played all season, and was just as complimentary of the effort in Game 3.
Despite allowing 37 shots in the 4-2 victory, the majority were from the perimeter, and 11 came on the power play.
"I think our defense has been good," Laviolette said. "Even (Wednesday), there was a lot of shots and there was a lot of opportunities, but an awful lot on the power play, and they had enough opportunities on it. … It's been a good team concept on defense that has kept the even-strength chances low for us at this point."
A key performer in that group has been Matt Carle. Carle led all blueliners in even-strength points during the regular season and has played more than 21 minutes per game in the first three games of the series. He has played with Pronger when Pronger has been healthy, but also has performed well with Andrej Meszaros.
"All year long, he turns in consistent performances night after night," Laviolette said. "He plays in all situations for us against other teams, when he's with Chris and when he's without Chris. He quietly goes about his business, he's had a very strong year for us and has continued on to help yield more minutes and responsibility now that Chris is out of the lineup."

Brad Boyes was added in hope he would add offense to the Sabres' lineup. But Buffalo's 4-2 loss in Game 3 to the Flyers marked the 14th straight game he's gone without a goal.
Boyes has three shots in Game 3, but that came after he had one shot each in the first two games of the series.
"I'm banging my head against the wall and still looking for answers," Boyes told the Buffalo News. "I've been through ups and downs before. It's a matter of keep putting pucks on net. Keep shooting and keep getting into certain areas."
He said he felt better about his Game 3 effort, but knows there's more he can give.
"You hopefully keep playing to get those chances," Boyes said. "I have to keep getting to the net more and bouncing something in, whatever it is, just throw pucks on net. I feel like I did that more. But it's about results."
Who's hot: Flyers forward Danny Briere has goals in each of the last two games. He had 3 goals in four regular-season games against the Sabres. … Defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani leads the Sabres with 4 points -- all assists -- in the first three games of the series. He led just 3 points in nine regular-season games; he led all AHL defensemen in scoring this season with 60 points in 63 games.
Injury report:
Pronger (hand) and Flyers forward Andreas Nodl (upper body) are day-to-day. Forward Mike Richards missed practice for what the team called a maintenance day. is reporting he's fighting a serious head cold but will play in Game 4. … Sabres forwards Tyler Ennis and Mike Grier both missed practice Tuesday for what the team called maintenance days. Defensemen Andrej Sekera and Shaone Morrisonn also missed practice due to upper-body injuries that kept them out of Game 3. They are questionable for Game 4.
Stat pack: During the regular season, the Flyers were 10th in the League with 1,905 hits and the Sabres were 30th with 1,505 hits. Through the first three games of their playoff series, however, the Sabres have out-hit the Flyers 93-88.
Puck drop: Patrick Kaleta played just five shifts totaling 2:26 in Game 3, due to an upper-body injury. He was skating with a full cage on his helmet during Tuesday's practice, but wouldn't go into detail why.
"Just battling a cold, with a runny nose and sore throat," he joked.
He did say, however, he would be playing in Game 4.
"I'm back today so I feel a lot better today," he said. "Pumped up, actually. I didn't get to waste too much energy (Monday) so it's all built up and I'm ready to get back on the right path."
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