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by Rob Crean / Buffalo Sabres


BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Brian Boucher stopped 35 shots as the Flyers new starting goalie in helping Philadelphia grab a first-round playoff series lead with a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.

Danny Briere and Nikolay Zherdev keyed the victory by scoring second-period goals as Philadelphia bounced back with two straight wins after a 1-0 series-opening loss Thursday. Game 4 is at Buffalo on Wednesday.

Nikolay Zherdev and Kimmo Timonen, with an empty-netter, also scored as the Flyers improved to 6-0-2 in their past eight visits to Buffalo, including the regular season.

Drew Stafford and Nathan Gerbe scored in a game the Sabres never led. Buffalo has lost consecutive games for the first time since ending a three-game skid Feb. 23.

Boucher got the start after he stopped 20 of 21 shots in a 5-4 win Saturday in relief of rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, who struggled by allowing three goals on seven shots. Bobrovsky went from playoff starter to healthy scratch as recently called-up Michael Leighton served as the backup.

Boucher was greeted with mock chants of "Boooo-shey!" from the energized sold-out house in Buffalo from the opening minute. He then proceeded to quiet the crowd with a series of solid saves - including 15 in the first period... MORE

Nikolay Zherdev was inserted into the Philadelphia lineup after being scratched for the first two games of the series and made a big impact as he scored the eventual game-winning goal in the second period.  With the Flyers having taken a 2-1 lead earlier in the period, Zherdev capitalized on a Buffalo turnover and a nifty passing play by his linemates.  The Sabres had trouble getting the puck out of their own end and Kris Versteeg came up with it on the right wings boards near the top of the faceoff circle.  When he gained control, he fired a pass across the ice to Mike Richards.  That created a 2-on-1 in tight as Steve Montador was left to cover both Richards and Zherdev, and Richards threaded a neat pass across the slot to Zherdev for the tap-in, giving the Flyers a 3-1 lead.

While Sergei Bobrovsky was appointed as the Flyers’ starting goaltender leading into the playoffs, Brian Boucher looks to have emerged as the team’s top netminder after picking up a win for the second straight game.  He relieved Bobrovsky in the first period of Game 2 and stopped 20 of 21 shots in a 5-4 win on Saturday and was even better in tonight’s 4-2 Flyers win.  Boucher turned aside 35 of 37 shots by the Sabres. In the first period alone, he made 15 saves as the Sabres out-shot the Flyers 16-6.  He made nine more saves in the second period, then stopped all 11 shots he faced in the third period to secure the victory for Philadelphia.  Tonight was Boucher’s first postseason start since Game 5 of the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals at Boston.

- The loss marked the first time Buffalo has lost two consecutive games since February, when the team lost three straight from Feb. 12-15.

This is a chance to play for the Stanley Cup so no game is going to be easy. It just comes down to our mistakes and we made too many mistakes tonight.” - Defenseman Mike Weber
- Marc-Andre Gragnani recorded an assist on each of Buffalo’s two goals to give him a three-game point streak (0-4-4) in the playoffs.  The rookie defenseman also collected an assist in the final game of the regular season, giving him at least one helper in each of the last four outings.  Gragnani leads the Sabres in playoff scoring and is the only player in the series who has a point in each game. He also led Buffalo in ice time at 23:51.

- Drew Stafford scored the Sabres’ first goal of the game for his third career playoff goal and first since April 25, 2007 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Rangers.  Stafford also finished with a game-high six shots and logged over 20 minutes of ice time.

- Nathan Gerbe notched his first of the 2011 playoffs and recorded five shots on goal and three hits.

- Jordan Leopold returned to the lineup for Game 3 after missing the last 10 games with a hand injury and logged 14:48 of ice time.

- Tim Connolly won 14 of his 20 faceoff attempts (70%).

I think we spend maybe the next little while here, maybe hour, thinking about it but then we gotta bury it and move on… As far as this game, the outcome, reflect on it a bit but we gotta move on.” - Forward Drew Stafford
- After the teams combined to go 3-for-18 on the power play in Game 2, each team scored on its first man-advantage opportunity of Game 3 as Jeff Carter tallied for Philadelphia and Drew Stafford netted one for Buffalo.

- The Sabres out-shot the Flyers 16-6 in the first period for their highest single-period shot output of the series thus far.

- Tonight’s attendance of 18,690 marked the 14th consecutive sellout at HSBC Arena.  In addition, more than 5,000 Sabres fans watched the game outside the building at the Party in the Plaza.

- Patrick Kaleta suffered an upper body injury and did not return after the first period.

- Shaone Morrisonn did not play due to an undisclosed injury for the second straight game.  Andrej Sekera was also out of the lineup with an injury.

- Defenseman Dennis Persson and forward Mark Mancari were recalled from Portland on an emergency basis, but did not dress for the game.  Patrick Lalime was also a healthy scratch.

- Jochen Hecht (upper body) remained sidelined due to injury.

- Defensemen Chris Pronger and Nick Boynton, forwards Jody Shelley and Andreas Nodl and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky were scratched for the Flyers.

Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between the Sabres and Flyers will take place Wednesday at HSBC Arena at 7:30 p.m.  The Sabres will look to even the series after falling behind 2-1 with Monday’s loss.  Buffalo is 8-7 all-time in Game 4 when trailing a series 2-1.

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