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“We need to clean up some of that,” said Ruff. “But at the same time, we need to play with emotion. We need to capture what our fans are going to bring tonight. If that means we have to maybe kill one here or there because we’re a little too emotional, I’m not looking for this flat-line game where I’m going to take all of emotion out of our players. Our penalty killing has been good.”
Dating back to the regular season, the Sabres have killed off 26 of their last 28 shorthanded situations, including 14 of 15 in the first two games against the Flyers.
“We’re going to go out there and try and kill them as best we can. I think our penalty kill has done a good job so far, even this morning we talked about some things that we can still improve on,” said defenseman Chris Butler
, who has led all skaters in the series thus far in ice time, averaging 26:36.
After playing the first two games of the series on the road in Philadelphia, the Sabres expect to get an extra boost by playing in front of the hometown crowd tonight, which they expect to be loud. At the same time, it will be important for the team to stay in control.
“We know that they’re going to be pretty excited, just as we are. I think we just have to control our emotions early on in the game and hopefully that works for us,” said Rob Niedermayer
, a veteran of 111 Stanley Cup Playoff games. “I think it’s just, keep things simple. That’s what our approach is. There’s not a lot of ice out there right now. If we give them turnovers, that just sort of feeds their game, so we’re just trying to keep it simple.”
After Buffalo won Game 1 by a score of 1-0, the teams combined for nine goals in Game 2, including six in a wild first period. The drastic difference in styles in the two games make it tough to predict how tonight’s game will be played.
“I don’t know if (this series) is going to take on one identity,” said Ruff. “You can get tighter, you can get more open. There’s a lot of rebels, both teams, there’s a lot of characters. I don’t think one team is going to be strictly one way. There’s a looseness that both teams bring and I think we’re going to see that. I think games could be like Game 1, they could be like Game 2, it could be somewhere in between. When you get momentum in a game, you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
On the Flyers’ side, Head Coach Peter Laviolette announced that Brian Boucher will start in goal for Philadelphia tonight. Sergei Bobrovsky started the first two games of the series, but was pulled in the first period of Game 2 after allowing three goals on seven shots. Boucher came in and stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced to lead the Flyers to victory.
“I thought Brian came in his last couple times and has done a really nice job for us in there. He seems on top of his game and in charge of his net. He bailed us out of a couple situations and I really feel like he deserves to go in there and play,” said Laviolette.
During the regular season, Boucher posted a record of 18-10-4 with a 2.42 goals against average and a .912 save percentage. He also appeared in 12 games during Philadelphia’s run to the Stanley Cup Finals last season.
According to the Flyers’ official website, defenseman Chris Pronger “is officially listed as day-to-day but will NOT be available for tonight's Game 3.”