Tyler Ennis puts Buffalo on the brink, Sabres beat Flyers 4-3 in OT to take 3-2 series lead

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Tyler Ennis isn’t a finalist for the Calder Trophy this year but for Sabres fans he’s been all the rookie they could possibly hope for this season. Tonight, he helped make a case for full-blown cult hero status after scoring two goals including the game-winner in overtime to give the Sabres a 4-3 overtime win and a 3-2 series lead.

Ennis helped the Sabres to avoid another NHL playoff meltdown as Buffalo was up 3-0 in this game after scoring three times in the first period on starter Brian Boucher. Ennis, Thomas Vanek, and Marc-Andre Gragnani each scored on Boucher to chase him out of the game after saving just eight shots. In came last year’s playoff hero Michael Leighton and the combination of Leighton and Flyers pride helped get them back into the game.

James van Riemsdyk scored 8:12 into the second period to get the Flyers on the board and 1:45 later Andrej Meszaros blasted a shot from the blue line past Ryan Miller to make it 3-2.

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Sabres coach Lindy Ruff then burned his timeout to settle things down and the move paid off until the third period when Daniel Briere tied the game at 3:36 of the third. While the Flyers took control of the game in the second period and through to the third, the game would head to overtime.

There, Ennis put home a big rebound from a Mike Weber slap shot to help put the Sabres over the top and roaring with emotion heading home for Game 6 on Sunday afternoon (3 p.m. on NBC).

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For Philadelphia, the questions about their goaltending now come roaring back again. After Sergei Bobrovsky was chased out of Game 2, Brian Boucher stood tall until tonight. Now with Leighton playing well enough through the rest of tonight’s game, the big question falls on who will start a pivotal Game 6.

Given the issues the Flyers are having defensively, having problems in goal is the last thing coach Peter Laviolette wanted to deal with. Instead, he’s seeing all the worries about goaltending come flying back in his face and awakening the ghosts of playoff failures past.

The Sabres get to avoid yet another collapse in the playoffs and getting tossed into the conversation with the likes of the Kings and Rangers. Instead, they rode out the storm and took advantage of opportunity in overtime to seal up the game. They played an outstanding first period and took advantage of some crazy bounces but those things happen when you work hard. It’s cliché, but a complete effort like that means the Sabres don’t even have to play an overtime period and they win going away. They’ll need that full effort if they want to knock the Flyers out of the playoffs on Sunday.

Video: Weise records Gordie Howe hat trick after spirited scrap with Hamonic

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Thursday’s game between the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers wasn’t even nine minutes old by the time Dale Weise had recorded the Gordie Howe hat trick.

Already with the opening goal and an assist on Radko Gudas‘ goal, giving Philly a 3-0 lead, Weise dropped the gloves with Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic for a spirited fight off a faceoff.

Not many, if any, positives for the Islanders after a disastrous start. Needing a win to close the gap on the Boston Bruins in the wild card race, New York fell behind 5-0 by the time the first period was over.

There is perhaps even more bad news for the Islanders: Hamonic wasn’t on the bench to begin the second period.

The Islanders have since provided an update: Hamonic will not return to this game due to an upper-body injury.

 

 

The Islanders are off to a disastrous start in Philly, Flyers chase Greiss

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Talk about the worst possible start for the New York Islanders.

Trailing the Boston Bruins by four points for the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders lived through a nightmare to begin Thursday’s game, falling behind the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 4-0 — before the midway point of the first period.

Dale Weise started the scoring at 4:30 of the first period. By the 9:19 mark, the Flyers opened up a four-goal lead and had already chased Islanders starting goalieThomas Greiss, who allowed three goals on eight shots.

Jaroslav Halak was brought into the game and promptly surrendered a goal to Jordan Weal.

It continued to get worse for the Islanders, who finished the first period trailing by five goals. Shots? They were 19-10 in favor of Philly. Yup. It was bad.

With Josh Ho-Sang in the box serving a double-minor for high sticking, Wayne Simmonds gave Philly a 5-0 lead with his 30th goal of the year.

Shaping up to be a long night for the Islanders.

Karlsson’s ironman streak comes to an end as Sens visit Wild

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For the first time since the lockout-shortened season, the Ottawa Senators will not have star defenseman Erik Karlsson in their lineup.

With the Sens four points back of Montreal for the Atlantic Division lead, Karlsson will not play tonight versus the Minnesota Wild, which ends his ironman streak at 324 consecutive games played.

Karlsson trails Brent Burns by only five points for the lead in that category among NHL defenseman. He also logs close to 27 minutes of ice time per game. Only three blue liners in the entire league — Dustin Byfuglien, Drew Doughty and Ryan Suter — play more on average per game.

The injury reportedly occurred when Karlsson blocked a shot against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday. Trade deadline acquisition Jyrki Jokipakka is expected to make his debut for Ottawa, per the Citizen.

“If we miss him for a game or two, we’re not sure what’s going to happen,” forward Mark Stone told the Ottawa Citizen. “He’s the best defenceman in the world. If you take him out of your lineup, it’s obviously a huge blow.”

WATCH LIVE: Stars at Bruins

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The Boston Bruins hold the final wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, and they will look to continue their push for the playoffs when they host the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

You can catch the game on NBCSN (7:30 p.m. ET) or online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

McAvoy has the talent to improve Bruins right now

NHL on NBCSN: Bruins continue push for playoff spot against Stars

Stars go deeper than rock bottom in Ruff’s ‘worst game’ with team