BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Boosh or Bob? Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette called it a fair question after practice on Sunday.
That doesn’t mean he was willing to say which goalie — Brian Boucher or Sergei Bobrovsky — will start Game 3 of their first-round playoff series at Buffalo on Monday night.
“We don’t talk about lineups,” Laviolette said.
Boucher worked himself back into the conversation Saturday night by stopping 20 of 21 shots in a 5-4 victory that evened the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series at 1. He did that in relief of Bobrovsky, yanked after allowing three goals on seven shots 12:30 into the first period.
And just like that, two games into the playoffs, the second-seeded Flyers are suddenly confronted with a goaltending quandary they had hoped was finally behind them after Bobrovsky claimed the No. 1 role following a solid rookie season.
The questions are nothing new for Boucher. He has become accustomed to goaltending carousels in his two stints in Philadelphia split over five seasons.
After going 11-7 in helping the Flyers reach the conference finals as a rookie in 2000, Boucher appeared in only three playoff games over his next two seasons before being traded to Phoenix in June 2002.
“You just prepare every day the same regardless of last night,” he said. “This is how we do it and it’s nothing new. It’s not an issue. You come to the rink preparing to play, and if you don’t, you don’t.”
Boucher provided a stabilizing presence during a frantic first period. He stepped in with the Flyers trailing 3-2 and in jeopardy of falling into an 0-2 series hole following a 1-0 loss in Game 1 on Thursday night.
In Buffalo, the Sabres paid little attention to which goalie they will be facing.
“It doesn’t really matter to us,” forward Mike Grier said. “We’re going to have to still get traffic and find a way to get the puck by the guy who ever’s in there.”
Then again, the Sabres have more pressing concerns of their own to address. It starts with a rash of undisciplined play that has led to the Flyers’ 15-9 edge in power-play chances.
Though the Sabres’ penalty-killing unit has bailed them out in allowing just one goal, the penalties have cost Buffalo by keeping the team’s star offensive players off the ice.
After scoring twice in the first period, Thomas Vanek was limited to five shifts and 4:18 of ice time during a second period that featured a parade of six Sabres players sent to the penalty box.
“I think from time to time, we let our emotions probably get too high and get the better of us,” Grier said. “We’ve got to be emotionally high, but be able to still be in control and not take so many penalties.”
The Sabres have shown new resolve this postseason, after they were knocked for being pushed around by the Bruins in being eliminated from the first round of last year’s playoffs.
On Saturday, the Sabres stood toe-to-toe — or chin to chest as in the case of diminutive Buffalo forward Nathan Gerbe exchanging shoves with Claude Giroux — to the bigger, more physical Flyers.
Coach Lindy Ruff was careful to stress he wanted his team to play with more discipline but not at the expense of losing its edge.
“I thought we answered the bell yesterday, and maybe went a little too far,” Ruff said. “We want to play with a lot of energy, but the right type of energy.”
The Sabres should get an emotional boost playing at home, where they closed the season going 9-1-2, including a playoff-clinching 4-3 overtime win over Philadelphia on April 8.
Buffalo also has not lost consecutive games since a three-game skid from Feb. 16-20.
The Flyers, by comparison, went 9-9-5 over their final 25 games, and haven’t won consecutive games since March 8-10.
Bobrovsky is now 0-3-2 and allowed 18 goals in his past six games. Boucher is a little better, having gone 2-2-2 and allowed 12 goals in his past six.
“I talked to Bob last night. Obviously, he’s disappointed from a personal standpoint, but happy that the team was able to win,” Boucher said. “He’s a resilient person. Every time he’s been faced with adversity, he’s bounced back.”
NOTES: Bobrovsky was one of a handful of Flyers players to skate in an optional practice before the team traveled to Buffalo. … The Sabres had 12 players skate Sunday, plus LW Jochen Hecht (upper body), who worked out on the ice on his own before practice. … The Flyers’ power play has gone 6 of 56 in its past 16 games, including the playoffs.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)