Flyers put together 5-4 comeback win as Ville Leino’s OT goal forces Game 7

If you want an interesting microcosm of everything that’s right and wrong about the Philadelphia Flyers, today’s resourceful 5-4 overtime Game 6 win over the Buffalo Sabres might be ideal.

On the bad side, you have Michael Leighton’s laughably bad first period. Even people who expected the goalie to look rusty were probably surprised to see him allow three awful goals on only eight shots in one period of duty. Another ugly element of the game was Mike Richards’ hit on Tim Connolly. Richards sent Connolly head-first into the boards with a check from behind but only received a two-minute minor penalty.

Before you roll your eyes at the complaint that Richards didn’t get booted out of the game, chew on this: he was on the ice for Philadelphia’s game-tying and game-winning goals. Then again, that love-it-or-hate-it style suits the Flyers really well, as they found to way a win thanks to their deep reservoir of quality forwards.

Philadelphia 5, Buffalo 4 (OT); Series tied at 3-3.

Ville Leino scored a goal that felt a little like a grittier version of Nathan Horton’s OT winner against the Montreal Canadiens last night. Leino found himself on the doorstep when a rebound bounced his way and the Sabres’ defense couldn’t react quickly enough to keep him from scoring that sudden death tally.

The Flyers fell behind 2-0, 3-1 and 4-3 in this game but came back every time. This marks the second straight game in which this series went to overtime, but this time Philly came through with their season on the line.

There will be some controversy over the Richards hit for sure; in fact, there might even be a suspension if the league’s feeling courageous (though we wouldn’t bet on it). You can decide for yourself if the Richards hit is suspension-worthy by watching this video of two big hits: Richards on Connolly and Tyler Myers on Kris Versteeg.

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Ultimately, it almost seems proper that this series will go to the limit. After all, every game in this series was decided by one goal (discounting one Philly empty-netter). Each team now has two regulation wins and one overtime victory each. It’s been an even-matched and increasingly contentious series, so Game 7 should be an absolute blast to watch.

Here’s Ville Leino’s game-winning goal in overtime.

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Game 7 outlook

On one hand, the Flyers realize that they can come back from some formidable odds. They managed to tie Game 5 up after falling behind 3-0 but lost in overtime, yet this time around, they were able to dig themselves out of a 3-1 first period hole.

Even if they’ve shown the resiliency to fight back after falling behind, it’s obvious that the Flyers would like to avoid this situation in Game 7. Some might expect a goalie controversy after Leighton’s flop, but with two relief wins, it would be very surprising to see anyone but Boucher in net.

(You really never know when it comes to the Flyers and their goalies, though.)

One thing seems clear, at least if Game 6 is any indication: Chris Pronger simply isn’t healthy enough to be a significant contributor for the Flyers right now. His time on ice was just 4:33 in Game 6.

The funny thing about this series is that Philadelphia receives all this criticism, yet Buffalo has problems of their own. It’s probably unfair to throw Ryan Miller under the bus (he stopped 44 out of 49 shots), but their defense deserves some serious scrutiny.

Buffalo blew a three-goal lead in Game 5 before winning in OT and three different leads in this loss. As dangerous as the Flyers might be, that remains unacceptable for a team hoping to make a dark horse run in the 2011 playoffs.

There are plenty of questions on both sides, but all that does is set up what should be a thrilling Game 7 confrontation. Will the Flyers force their way to the second round or will the Sabres mildly upset the second seed? Either way, the biggest winners are hockey fans.

Ducks cement Pacific lead as Getzlaf continues his mammoth March

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By the end of Sunday night, the Anaheim Ducks removed all doubt: they’re on top of the Pacific Division.

Now, it’s not the sort of substantial lead that the sliding San Jose Sharks squandered; Anaheim merely leads the Sharks and Edmonton Oilers by two standings points after beating the New York Rangers 6-3.

With everyone at 75 games played, it’s kind of nice to enjoy the clarity that comes with a clear lead (though the Sharks and Oilers will disagree):

Pacific top four (all teams with 75 games played)

1. Ducks – 93 points (38 ROW, 41 W)
2. Sharks – 91 poitns (40 ROW, 42 W)
3. Oilers – 91 points (37 ROW, 41 W)

Flames – 88 points (38 ROW, 42 W)

The Ducks are now on a four-game winning streak and managed an 8-1-1 mark in their last 10 contests.

With all due respect to Patrick Eaves‘ two goals, it’s Ryan Getzlaf who’s really playing outstanding hockey. He generated four assists in this one, giving him eight helpers in his past four games. He now has a whopping 20 points in March.

A lot going on – fight included – between Corey Perry, Brendan Smith (Video)

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If there’s one thing that’s undeniable from the clip going on, it’s that Corey Perry and Brendan Smith squeezed a lot of activity (carnage?) into a single shift.

Early on in Sunday’s New York Rangers – Anaheim Ducks game, both player delivered hits that were at least borderline dangerous. After that, they traded punches in a pretty solid fight (especially since they seemed a little tired because, again, this was a fairly elaborate sequence).

It’s way too messy a sequence to call neat, but there is something efficient about trading hits and then getting into a fight. That’s a mini-hockey feud in short order.

If you want a pretty moment to counteract all that, check out the great puck movement on this 3-on-1 goal for the Rangers:

Penguins lose to Flyers and lose another key player to injury

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PITTSBURGH — Even with a ridiculously long injured list that would be the foundation of a pretty good hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins still found a way to go 8-1-3 in their previous 12 games entering Sunday’s contest against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The injuries finally seemed to start catching up to them on Sunday in a 6-2 loss, extending their current losing streak to three games, matching their season long.

While the loss certainly impacts their pursuit of the top spot in the Metropolitan Division (they remain three points back of the Washington Capitals), and even their quest for home ice advantage in the first round, it is still not the worst thing to come out of Sunday’s game.

The worst thing for them would be the fact the Penguins lost yet another key player to an injury when forward Conor Sheary had to leave the game mid-way through the first period.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said after the game that Sheary is dealing with a lower body injury and that right now he is considered to be day-to-day. It was initially believed that Sheary was injured blocking a shot, but Sullivan insisted that was not the case and that it happened in the offensive zone at some point in the first period.

With Jake Guentzel still sidelined due a concussion he suffered in a recent game against the Buffalo Sabres, that means two-thirds of the team’s recently assembled top line (Sidney Crosby-Sheary-Guentzel) is now sidelined due to injury. Sheary’s injury is especially concerning given how good he has been on Crosby’s wing dating back to the 2016 playoffs. Entering play on Sunday Sheary was averaging nearly a point per game (50 points in 54 games) with almost all of that production coming at even-strength.

They had yet another scare in the third period on Sunday when defenseman Brian Dumoulin had to briefly leave the game and head to the locker room after he was elbowed in the side of the head by Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

On Sunday, all of the injuries finally seemed to be too much with the Flyers pretty much dominating the game over the final two periods.

The Flyers received goals from six different players (Jordan Weal, Valtteri Filppula, Dale Weise, Jakob Voracek, Radko Gudas and Shayne Gostisbehere) in the win and outshot the Penguins by a 24-15 margin over the final 40 minutes.

“That wasn’t a good effort and at this point of the season we can’t afford to have those,” said Penguins forward Matt Cullen after the game. “I don’t think that was a typical effort for us. I don’t think we had a lot of life, to be honest.”

Even more than winning games the rest of the way the biggest concern for the Penguins has to be getting their list of injured players healthy and finding a way to avoid adding to it, something that has proven to be difficult in recent weeks.

At this point, whether they win the Metropolitan Division or not, they know their path through the Eastern Conference playoffs is very likely going to have to go through both Washington and Columbus, and they are going to need their full complement of players to do it.

One of the biggest factors in winning a Stanley Cup is having all of your key players in the lineup come playoff time.

A year ago the Penguins did.

Right now they are not even close to having that.

Video: Dumoulin shakes off elbow, Sheary out day-to-day for Penguins

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Barring a major comeback, the Pittsburgh Penguins look like they’re going to lose to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Their injury losses might be just as big.

On the bright side, it seems like Brian Dumoulin was able to shake off an elbow from Wayne Simmonds. You can watch the hit, which didn’t draw a penalty, in the video above.

Meanwhile, Conor Sheary has been missing since the first period with what might be a lower-body injury.

The Penguins’ list of injuries is already pretty ridiculous, so if one or both of these players miss significant time, tonight will sting deeper than a setback on the scoreboard.

Update after the Penguins’ loss: Seemingly good news, if very early and vague: