PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Backed by a burst of early goals, the Philadelphia Flyers never had to rally in Game 7.
Brian Boucher bucked the series trend of swapping goalies by keeping the lead and giving the Flyers a chance to return to the Stanley Cup finals.
Boucher stopped 26 shots and Philadelphia advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.
The Flyers rallied from a 3-2 series deficit a year after they won four straight to overcome a 3-0 hole against Boston in the East semifinals.
In a series that went the distance, Boucher did the same in Game 7.
He gets another round to prove he's the goalie who can lead the Flyers to their first Stanley Cup championship since 1975.
``There's going to be days when things don't go your way,' Boucher said, ``But you have to play through it.'
No one did it quite like Boucher.
He was the Game 1 backup, won Games 2 and 6 in relief, and was strong in the clincher.
``I've had to deal with adversity a lot in my career, and somehow, I keep sticking around,' he said. ``I always try to say, even when things are down, that these things find a way to work themselves out. And in this series, it did.'
Boucher watched as Ryan Miller was the goalie chased after the Flyers raced to a 4-0 lead. It was a switch from the rest of the series when the Flyers had trouble in the net. They started three goalies in seven games, but Boucher was stout for all 60 minutes on Tuesday night.
The defending conference champions must wait to learn their next opponent. They'll play either Boston, Pittsburgh or Tampa Bay.
Braydon Coburn, Danny Briere, James van Riemsdyk, and Ville Leino all scored against Miller to suck the drama out of Game 7.
The Flyers surely won't complain about a rout.
``We had big-time players score big-time goals,' Flyers captain Mike Richards said.
This was the Flyers team that spent a chunk of the season atop the East standings, not the one that stumbled down the stretch.
Coburn put the Flyers ahead with 19 seconds left in the first period, and Briere and van Riemsdyk put the game away with goals in the second.
``In the big games, we show up,' Briere said.
The Sabres never stood a chance in front of 19,966 screaming Flyers fans.
Or against Boucher.
Boucher may have solidified himself as the No. 1 goalie for as long as Philadelphia's postseason run lasts. Sergei Bobrovsky started Games 1 and 2; Boucher got Games 3-5 and 7; and Michael Leighton Game 6. One of Boucher's two wins in relief came in Sunday's win-or-go-home Game 6 in Buffalo.
This time, it was Miller who was yanked.
Miller, who won two 1-0 games this series, got the hook after Leino's slapper early in the third made it 4-0. The crowd went wild when Miller skated off the ice. Leino applauded hockey-style, tapping his glove against his stick in appreciation.
``The crowd was unbelievable tonight, and I just wanted to salute them,' Leino said.
From there, it was just a matter of watching the minutes tick off.
Boucher's bid at the Flyers' first shutout of the season ended when Tyler Myers made it 4-1 in the third.
The Flyers jumped ahead late in the first. With time winding down, Briere won a clean faceoff and got the puck to Coburn. His liner from the point turned into a knuckleball after Sabres winger Michael Grier tipped it with his glove and the puck wobbled through Miller's legs.
Briere, a former Sabre, tapped Miller on the back of his head as he skated away.
``There's no animosity toward the team,' Briere said.
The Flyers reversed what had been a string of miserable starts. The Sabres outscored them 11-5 in the first period over the first six games.
Briere, one of the great clutch playoff performers in the NHL, made it 2-0 when he sneaked in behind Miller and pounded in his series-high sixth goal.
Van Riemsdyk made it 3-0 midway through the second and the Sabres were finished.
Dan Carcillo pushed the lead to 5-1 before Buffalo's Brad Boyes scored on a late backhander.
Miller didn't sit on the bench after he was replaced, but did return for the series-ending handshakes.
``They got the pucks in the net, they got the bounces, and we couldn't get anything going and couldn't cash in until the third,' Miller said.
Briere and van Riemsdyk's goals were on the power play - a needed boost for the Flyers, who were 1 for 20 at home this series and 3 for 31 overall.
The Sabres head home after new ownership and a rousing finish to the regular season helped give them confidence for next season.
Buffalo was hit hard with injuries in this series and was undermanned in the final two games. Tim Connolly, Jason Pominville and Patrick Kaleta all sat out Game 7.
Derek Roy returned to the lineup for the first time since Dec. 23. Roy was the team's leading scorer when he went down with a torn quadriceps, and had been ruled out of the first round. He was pressed into service with Connolly injured.
They'll have plenty of time to rest now.
``There were some guys who were able to muster up energy, some other guys played more than their role, but those guys emptied their tanks for me,' coach Lindy Ruff said. ``For four months, we asked them to go above and beyond and they did.'
NOTES: The Flyers improved to 9-6 in Game 7s. ... Philadelphia hosted its first Game 7 since beating Toronto in the first round on April 22, 2003. ... The Sabres fell to 1-6 in Game 7s, including 0-5 on the road.
Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.