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STANLEY CUP NHL PLAYOFFS | NHL PLAYOFFS

Flyers Return Home With Two-Game Lead

May 06, 1997|From Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Philadelphia Flyers can't ask for much more. They are halfway through clinching a berth in the Eastern Conference finals--and they still haven't been home.

Garth Snow made 29 saves and the Flyers jumped to an early lead en route to a 2-1 victory over the Sabres on Monday, giving Philadelphia a two-game lead in the conference semifinals. Game 3 is Wednesday night at the CoreStates Center.

"Two games, two wins," Snow said. "We have a couple more coming up, and we have to play even better."

Philadelphia played solid from the opening faceoff and out-muscled Buffalo for most of the game. Mikael Renberg and Chris Therien gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead in the first 17 minutes, and they held off Buffalo in the third period.

"It's nice to score goals," Therien said. "I don't get many of them during the regular season and certainly not the playoffs. I'll take any one I can get."

Jason Dawe broke up Snow's shutout with a goal late in the second period, but the Sabres were unable to solve Snow again. Snow has given up just one goal since the second period of Game 1.

"Snowy did a good job out there," Philadelphia Coach Terry Murray said. "He had a lot of pressure on him in the second period. They kept dumping the puck in and throwing everything at the net. He kept coming up with the big stop."

Buffalo has not won a second-round playoff game since defeating Boston 14 years ago and looked like a team that might not win again this season.

The Sabres played well in Philadelphia's 5-3 victory in Game 1, but they came out flat Monday and never fully recovered. They had just eight shots in the third period and didn't threaten even when they pulled Steve Shields in the final moments.

"We didn't fight all year to get where we are and then lose two games and fold it up," Buffalo Coach Ted Nolan said. "This series is far from over."

The Sabres already were missing Dominik Hasek to a three-game suspension when they found out Michael Peca, their top defensive forward, would miss the game because of back spasms.

Peca helped shut down Eric Lindros and the Legion of Doom in Game 1, but the Sabres in the first period countered Philadelphia's top line with inexperienced center Wayne Primeau and aggressive forwards Brad May and Rob Ray.

Renberg gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead 4:47 into the game when he backhanded John LeClair's shot from just inside the blue line into the net, and Philadelphia never relinquished its lead.

"It was a real good game for us," Murray said. "In the first period, we really played well. We got things established on the first shift. It was pretty solid overall."

The Flyers went into a neutral-zone trap that Ottawa effectively used against Buffalo in the first round.

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