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Flyers End Sabres’ Playoff Hopes in 2-1 Win on Awards Night

Apr 5, 2012, 11:19 PM EDT

Matt Read picked up the puck along the half boards, skated into the zone all alone, made three quick dekes, and beat Ryan Miller to secure a 2-1 Flyers victory Thursday night.

Matt Read picked up the puck along the half boards, skated into the zone all alone, made three quick dekes, and beat Ryan Miller to secure a 2-1 Flyers victory Thursday night and a season sweep over the Buffalo Sabres.

The win guarantees the Flyers the five spot in the East and makes official a first round matchup with the Pittsburgh Penguins
For the Sabres, a surprising and commendable run over the final weeks of the season has fallen short. Buffalo’s loss this evening, combined with a Washington Capitals win, has eliminated the team from making the playoffs. Yeah, they fought hard, but its always nice to see Lindy Ruff and Patrick Kaleta sent home early.
Game Notes and the 2012 Flyers Individual Award Winners Below…

The Kids Are Alright
The Flyers rookies have made substantial contributions all season, just as they were going to need to if this team had any hope of being successful. It seemed fitting then that on the night the team found out its playoff fate, two rookies scored the game-tying and -winning goals.
Former Flyer Ville Leino — who’s had just a miserable season after signing a lucrative, long-term contract over the summer — ended 37 minutes and 26 seconds of scoreless hockey on a goal scored from within Ilya Bryzgalov’s crease. Really, Leino inhabited more of the blue paint than the goaltender to score his eighth goal of the season.
But the Flyers would answer back six minutes into the third when defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon let fly with a slap shot from the right face-off circle that cleanly beat Miller to tie the game, 1-1.

Later on, with just under five minutes to play, it was the aforementioned Read goal that put the Flyers ahead for good. Reader leads all rookies in goal scoring with 24 this season, and after watching this goal, it shouldn’t be hard to see why.

While the kids were getting on score sheet, it was Bryzgalov who was keeping the Sabres off it. Bouncing back from a rough outing against the Rangers on Tuesday, Bryz made 25 of 26 saves — including a few big ones in the third to keep the game tied and, later, his team ahead — in a performance very much in line with what we saw from him throughout the month of March. Though he’s reportedly still suffering discomfort from the chip fracture in his foot, he looked plenty solid against the Sabres and didn’t appear to be hindered in any noticeable way.

Though it’d be nice to keep him in a rhythm, it’ll be a surprise to see Bryzgalov or Fleury between the pipes on Saturday, just as it’s hard to imagine Giroux, Crosby, Malkin, et al. seeing much ice time.

Team Awards Night
As is customary this time of the year, the Flyers handed out their team awards before the game. The awards and their recipients are listed below:
– The Bobby Clarke Trophy for Most Valuable Player: Claude Giroux
– The Barry Ashbee Trophy for Outstanding Defenseman: Kimmo Timonen
– The Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy for Most Improved Player: Scott Hartnell
– The Yanick Dupree Class Guy Memorial Award as voted by the media: Jaromir Jagr
– The Gene Hart Memorial Award for the Flyers with the most “heart”: Wayne Simmonds
– The Toyota Cup for the most three stars points throughout the season: Claude Giroux
Sometimes you can quibble over these, but the accolades are in this case well-deserved, especially the recognitions for Hartnell and Simmonds.
I’ll be the first to admit I used to lambast Scott Hartnell for his play, specifically his previous bonehead habit of proving his tough guy worth by costing the Flyers power plays as a result of unnecessary retaliation. But Scotty seems to have finally found the right mix of focus and chippiness to rattle the opposition while also contributing on the score sheet. I swore Bird Dog would never break the 30 goal mark again, but I’ve been all to pleased to admit I was wrong. If Hartsy wants a second award, he can receive the “2012 That Guy Has (Temporarily) Shut Me Up” trophy.
As for Simmonds, well, he scored with his face the other day, got eight stitches and started a fight the following afternoon. As the voice of the Bullies, it’s easy to think Gene would have relished the opportunity to call a game for a Flyer like Wayne.
One other note on Giroux
Speaking of guys deserving of awards, G recorded his 93rd point of the season Thursday night, becoming the first Flyer to that total since Eric Lindros in 1998-99. Nice to see G get there, and nice to see the Big E mending his relationship with the Orange and Black.
A Blogger Set Adrift in Pittsburgh
Pretty sure Enrico won’t be coming home from IC Light territory until tomorrow. Rattle the cages, big guy, just make it back in one piece, or at least with the ability to type.

Full Game Highlights

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