PLAYOFF SERIES: Eastern Conference quarterfinals; Sabres lead 2-1.
The veteran center looks to sustain that momentum as the Flyers attempt to even their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series with the Buffalo Sabres as their best-of-7 series continues at the Wachovia Center.
Forsberg ended a personal eight-game goalless drought dating to March 25 with two goals in a 4-2 victory Wednesday for the Flyers. Forsberg, who also added an assist, has 59 goals and 100 assists in 136 playoff games.
“It’s his time of year,” said Flyers forward Mike Knuble, who had two assists in the win. “That’s why he’s here, because of how he plays in the playoffs. He does it all over the ice— passing, scoring goals, and physical play. He does it everywhere.”
Forsberg, who helped the Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup in 1996 and 2001, is trying to lead the Flyers to their first Stanley Cup title since 1975. His goals came off deflections in a 5:40 span of the second period, staking Philadelphia to a 3-1 lead.
“It was kind of my two luckiest goals ever, but we’ll take them and go from there,” said Forsberg, who signed a two-year, $11.5 million contract last summer.
But Forsberg’s heroics may not have been possible without Brian Savage, whose short-handed tally in the first period erased an early 1-0 deficit and energized the home team and crowd.
“It brought the building alive again and it brought our bench alive,” Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said of Savage’s goal. “I think that was the biggest goal in the series. That goal brought everyone back in the game and brought our team back in the game.”
Tim Connolly drew Buffalo within 3-2 with a third-period goal, but Flyers goaltender Robert Esche made sure they didn’t get any closer. Esche, pulled in Game 2 after allowing five goals on 10 shots, made 26 saves Wednesday and Simon Gagne added an empty-netter to seal the victory.
The Flyers have won nine of their last 10 home playoff games, while the Sabres have dropped eight of their last 12 on the road in the postseason.
After scoring three power-play goals in Game 2, Buffalo was 0-for-7 in Wednesday’s loss.
“Our power play certainly wasn’t as sharp as it was the previous game,” Sabres center Chris Drury said. “They got a couple of bounces in the second period and that’s your game.”
Ryan Miller made 23 saves for Buffalo and has given up just seven goals thus far in his first playoff series.
The Flyers have won just two of their last eight playoff series when trailing 2-1, while the Sabres have won five straight series when leading 2-1.
The series will return to Buffalo for Game 5 on Sunday.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Sabres - 110 points; 4th seed. Flyers - 101 points; 5th seed.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Sabres - J.P. Dumont and Jason Pominville, 3 goals; Connolly, Daniel Briere and Paul Gaustad, 3 assists; Connolly, 5 points; Toni Lydman, 8 PIM. Flyers - Gagne, 3 goals; Forsberg and Knuble, 3 assists; Forsberg, 5 points; Ben Eager, 26 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Sabres - Power play: 10.7 percent (3 for 28). Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (11 for 13). Flyers - Power play: 15.4 percent (2 for 13). Penalty killing: 89.3 percent (25 for 28).
GOALTENDERS: Sabres - Miller (2-1, 2.04 GAA); Martin Biron (no appearances). Flyers - Esche (1-2, 3.59); Niittymaki (0-0, 4.50).