Originally created 04/22/01

Sabres ground Flyers

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Dave Andreychuk felt sorry for Flyers goalie Roman Cechmanek. There was nothing more to say.

Andreychuk had a power-play goal and two assists as Buffalo scored on five of its first nine shots and stunned Philadelphia 8-0 Saturday to win the first-round playoff series 4-2.

"It was one of those games, and I've been in a few of them where everything goes your way," said Andreychuk, whose power-play goal gave the Sabres a 4-0 lead with 1:14 left in the first period.

"We got the bounces, we got the breaks. I feel bad for the goalie because he had a great year, a great series. It was just one of those things."

It was Buffalo's largest margin of victory in a playoff game, and Philadelphia's worst-ever defeat in the playoffs. The Flyers have been beaten by six goals three times, the last coming in a 9-3 loss to the New York Rangers 18 years ago in the last playoff game of Flyers coach Bill Barber's stellar playing career.

"It sure wasn't the way we wanted to continue on or finish the series," a subdued Barber said. "We had a couple of wins, and then it felt like the wheels fell off our wagon."

It certainly was unexpected.

Through the first five games of the series, two of which were won by Buffalo in overtime, each team scored a total of 13 goals and each held only one two-goal lead.

Buffalo, which turned in a lackluster performance in a 3-1 loss in Philadelphia in Game 5 on Thursday night, vowed to get off to a good start and that's exactly what the Sabres did as they dominated play, scoring three power-play goals.

"They came out strong, but it was a little bit of us not ready to play," said Philadelphia's John LeClair, who was on the ice for three of the final four goals. "Everything snowballed from there. We didn't help him (Cechmanek) too much."

Everybody figured the series would be a battle between two Czech goalies - Cechmanek and Dominik Hasek. Cechmanek had 35 wins during the season and was 4-0 against Hasek and the Sabres.

But with the series on the line, the 30-year-old rookie, who backed up Hasek as the Czech Republic won the gold medal at the 1998 Olympics, flopped in the biggest game of his young NHL career.

After the game, the two goalies chatted briefly at center ice after the traditional handshake and skated off to dressing rooms with starkly different atmospheres.

"We were all over the ice. They had maybe one chance the whole first period," said Hasek, who made 24 saves for his sixth career playoff shutout.

"It seemed like almost every shot at the net went in."

Andreychuk set up goals by Chris Gratton at 2:23 and Doug Gilmour at 13:20 - on a power play - and Donald Audette made it 3-0 at 17:49 as the Sabres rolled to a commanding lead. Buffalo finished with three power-play goals on six chances.

"We went to the (Stanley Cup) finals two years ago and we saw that special teams are going to win you games and essentially win you series," said Gratton, a former Flyers player who scored five goals in the series.

"Any time you get a few goals on a team and they're facing elimination, it really takes the wind out of their sails. We got a three-goal lead and really just kept rolling from there."

Jean-Pierre Dumont's breakaway goal just 3:25 into the second period gave Buffalo a 5-0 lead. Cechmanek then was replaced by Brian Boucher.

"We can't say anything bad about Roman," Philadelphia defenseman Eric Desjardins said. "He was strong throughout the series. It's a team sport - you win as a team and lose as a team."

Philadelphia, hardly the Broad Street bullies of yesteryear who fought their way to Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975, entered the game as the least-penalized team in the playoffs. But when Flyers defenseman Chris Terrien was called for roughing, the Sabres quickly took advantage, scoring their second goal of the game in just 27 seconds.

"We played a very good game from start to finish," Hasek said. "You don't expect after 14 shots to get up 7-0. It doesn't happen every day. He (Cechmanek) had a great season. One bad game doesn't change the whole season."

Notes: The Flyers have won only one of 10 series they've trailed 3-2. ... The Sabres had taken a 3-2 lead into Game 6 twice before and won both, beating Montreal in the Wales Conference finals in 1975 - the year they lost to the Flyers in the finals - and Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals two years ago.


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