Sabres 8, Flyers 2


BUFFALO, N.Y.- The rest of the Philadelphia Flyers know exactly how rookie R.J. Umberger felt after they, too, where flattened by the Buffalo Sabres.

Two nights after Umberger was knocked woozy by Brian Campbell’s heavy but legal hit, Buffalo’s J.P. Dumont and Jason Pominville each had three goals and an assist to help the Sabres beat the Flyers 8-2 for a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference series.

Chris Drury and Ales Kotalik also scored, and Paul Gaustad had three assists in a game the Sabres led 5-0 after the first period.

The Sabres, who needed 58 shots to beat Philadelphia 3-2 in double overtime on Saturday night, scored twice on their first three shots and needed only 12 to build a 6-1 lead on Dumont’s third goal midway through the second period.

The eight goals were the most since Buffalo’s 8-0 first-round series clinching win over Philadelphia in 2001.

Game 3 of the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night in Philadelphia.

Simon Gagne scored in the second period and Petr Nedved in the third for a Flyers team that came out flat, eventually lost its composure and at times appeared as stunned as Umberger did in Game 1 when he was hammered by Campbell.

Umberger did not play in Game 2 after failing a concussion-related test earlier in the day. He’s listed as day to day and will be re-evaluated when the team returns to Philadelphia.

Flyers goalie Robert Esche, who stopped a career-high 55 shots on Saturday, gave up five goals and was replaced by Antero Niittymaki at the start of the second period. Niittymaki stopped 15 of 18 shots in his NHL playoff debut.

The Sabres have won seven straight and nine of 10, including the regular season.

Dumont opened the scoring 1:41 in when he carried the puck up the left wing, avoided a sliding Sami Kapanen and snapped a shot to beat Esche on the glove side. Drury scored a power-play goal 79 seconds later, set up by Tim Connolly’s pass through the crease.

Esche then looked bad on the next goal, when Kotalik beat him on the short side with a 45-footer to cap a 3-on-2 rush.

Esche’s frustrations spilled over 16 minutes into the first period when he dropped his gloves and challenged Buffalo’s Derek Roy and Toni Lydman to fight.

Sabres fans then rubbed it in, chanting “USA! USA! in a a poke at Esche, who was chosen ahead of Buffalo rookie Ryan Miller to represent the United States in the Turin Olympics in February.

Miller stopped 20 shots.

The more lopsided the score, the more chippy the game became, allowing the Sabres to go 3-for-12 on the power play.

Dumont’s second goal came just at the end of a two-man advantage, when Flyers captain Derian Hatcher and defenseman Mike Rathje were penalized for taking runs at Campbell. Hatcher forearmed Campbell across the mouth.

Flyers defenseman Denis Gauthier received a 5-minute major penalty and was ejected for running Thomas Vanek from behind 6 minutes into the second period. Rookie foward Ben Eager also received two 10-minute misconducts, the second coming when he took on Vanek near the Sabres bench late in the third.

Notes: Nedved scored 9 seconds after Gagne had a goal disallowed when a video review showed the net had been dislodged. … Dumont and Pominville had the sixth and seventh three-goal playoff games in franchise history, and first since Matthew Barnaby scored three times in a 6-3 win over Montreal on May 10, 1998. … Buffalo’s five-goal first period matched a franchise record set three times, the last April 14, 1985, in a 7-4 win over Quebec.

AP-ES-04-24-06 2159EDT