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Flyers get back in the game, but Sabres take 4-3 lead to avenge Mike Richards hit

Buffalo Sabres v New York Islanders

at the Nassau Coliseum on January 23, 2011 in Uniondale, New York.

Bruce Bennett

Buffalo Sabres fans serenaded Brian Boucher with chants of “Booouuuu-cheeeer” during many times in the second period, but the Philadelphia Flyers managed to get back into the game thanks in part to the veteran’s slightly more stable netminding.

Sure, the one Nathan Gerbe goal Boucher did allow was pretty brutal, but he played much better than Michael Leighton did in that ugly first period. Boucher stopped 17 out of 18 shots in the second period, giving Philly some hope of coming back in a crucial Game 6.

Buffalo 4, Philadelphia 3; Sabres lead series 3-2

James van Riemsdyk continued his breakout playoff run with his third goal of the series just 49 seconds into the second. That 3-2 goal silenced the Buffalo crowd a bit and Danny Briere continued to torment his former team with a power-play goal. Briere scored his second goal of the game and fifth of the series to make it 3-3.

Things were looking good for the Flyers, but they continue to self-destruct. Mike Richards delivered the latest questionable hit of the playoffs when he pushed Tim Connolly’s head into the boards with a hit from behind. He received a two-minute boarding penalty but probably deserved a five-minute major on the play, especially considering his checkered past of hits and Connolly’s own history of head injuries. You can bet that Richards will get suspension attention, although it might be a moot point if the Flyers get booted from the playoffs.

Either way, it’s getting tougher and tougher to ignore Richards’ long line of questionable hits, even if he somehow is without a suspension on his record. The Flyers actually survived the 5-on-3 that resulted from that penalty to Richards plus one to Kris Versteeg, but Gerbe scored the go-head goal shortly after that successful kill.

It’s been a wide open game, so don’t be surprised if there’s more drama in the third period. Philadelphia certainly hopes so, because if it evens up being a score-less final 20 minutes, their season is over.

Click here to watch Game 6 with us on NHL Extra