Sabres 3, Flyers 0


BUFFALO, N.Y. – Rookie goaltender Ryan Miller stopped 24 shots to record his first playoff shutout, and Tim Connolly and J.P. Dumont scored power-play goals and had an assist each in Buffalo’s 3-0.

Maxim Afinogenov also scored, helping the Sabres bounce back from two road losses and take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series.

Game 6 is Tuesday at Philadelphia in a series in which the home team has won every game.

The Flyers looked nothing like the confident group that rallied from a 2-0 series deficit.

Peter Forsberg, who had four goals and four assists in four games, was held without a point for the first time. He and linemates Simon Gagne and Mike Knuble were blanked on a combined seven shots on net.

Miller responded after being faulted for giving up cheap goals in Buffalo’s losses. He particularly looked bad in allowing R.J. Umberger to sneak in a shot from the right circle for the go-ahead, third-period goal of Philadelphia’s 5-4 win in Game 4 on Friday.

While the Sabres’ defense prevented many second chances on Sunday, Miller still had to be sharp, especially in the second period when Buffalo was outshot 14-6.

His best save came with 1:10 left in the frame when Petr Nedved’s shot from in close glanced off Buffalo defenseman Teppo Numminen’s skate. Miller followed the puck and got the shaft of his stick out to make the stop.

The Sabres responded 20 seconds later, going up 2-0 on Dumont’s power-play goal.

Dumont scored after Flyers defenseman Eric Desjardins’ clearing attempt banked off teammate Branko Radivojevic inside the Philadelphia zone. Connolly got to the puck and fed Daniel Briere to set up a 2-on-1 down low. Briere maneuvered around sliding defenseman Denis Gauthier and fed a pass through the crease to Dumont, who one-timed a shot in from the right circle.

Connolly opened the scoring 6 minutes in, capping a breathtaking effort. Carrying the puck up the middle from his own blue line, Connolly drove all the way to the Flyers net against a defense that inexplicably kept backing up.

Connolly avoided Sami Kapanen’s poke check and snapped a shot from the slot, beating Robert Esche on the glove side.

The Sabres have opened the scoring in all five games of the series but had trouble maintaining the lead in the last two games, including squandering a 2-0 advantage Friday.

Afinogenov sealed the win scoring 5 minutes into the third period.

Miller became the third Sabres rookie to record a playoff shutout and first since Steve Shields in a 3-0 win over Ottawa on April 27, 1997.

Sabres rookie Paul Gaustad delivered the hit of the game, sending Nedved tumbling with a clean hip check at the Flyers blue line with 6 minutes left.

Notes: Sabres LW Jochen Hecht (upper body injury) didn’t play after being hurt in the second period of Game 4. Taylor Pyatt replaced him in the lineup, making his NHL playoff debut. … Numminen returned after a racing heart condition that developed in Game 3 and prevented him from playing in Game 4. … Connolly was forced to wear a visor after he was cut on the face during the warmup. … The Forsberg-Gagne-Knuble line has combined for eight goals and eight assists in the series. The rest of the Flyers have five goals and 10 assists.

AP-ES-04-30-06 1701EDT