Work in Sports
PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- Daymond Langkow wanted justice from the league for a questionable slash against him on Tuesday. Tonight in Game Five, he decided to take matters in his own hands.
Langkow, who was slashed over the head by Alexei Zhitnik, scored twice, including the eventual game-winning tally, as the Philadelphia Flyers advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals with a 5-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres.
Zhitnik was suspended one game for the incident that left Langkow stunned for a moment before he went down in a heap.
With Philadelphia ahead, 2-1, in the second period, Rick Tocchet fired a pass into the slot that deflected in the air before Langkow whacked the puck past goaltender Dominik Hasek for his second goal of the series.
"Tocchet fired it right to the front of the net and I tried to knock it down," Langkow said. "It hit the top of my skate, hopped up and hit me in the chest. It was in front of me and I just got as good a wood as I could get on it and it went between his legs. It felt good, whenever you can get up by more than a goal, it helps."
Buffalo bounced back in the third period when Stu Barnes, who scored the overtime goal in Game Four, tallied at 3:34 to narrow the deficit to 3-2. However, rookie Simon Gagne added a power-play tally almost seven minutes later, restoring the two-goal advantage.
It was the first time Hasek has yielded four goals in one contest since March 4 in a 4-2 defeat against the New York Islanders, a span of 11 regular season and three postseason games.
"They just kept coming at us," Barnes said. "The goal was nice, it put us within one and if we got one more and tied it up, who knows? They continued to play strong. They had the play the rest of the way."
Langkow ended the scoring in the series with an empty-net goal as time expired. The Flyers had bowed out in the opening round each of the last two seasons since an appearance in the 1997 Stanley Cup Finals.
"We wanted to make sure we weren't going back to Buffalo again," Flyers captain Eric Desjardins said. "This is the start of what will hopefully be a great run. We have ourselves in a great position now, and we have to keep going. We played solid as team, we supported each other in every area on the ice. It was the little things that made the difference and it won't be any different in the next series."
As he went to congratulate Philadelphia on the victory, Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff was hit in the side of the head with a cup of beer thrown from the stands. Ruff grabbed one of his players' sticks and headed back to the bench to point out the culprit.
The defending Eastern Conference-champion Sabres were eliminated in the opening round for the first time since 1995, when they were bounced by the Flyers in six games.
"Anything you don't improve on the year before, when you feel you have a stronger team, it is disappointing," Sabres captain Michael Peca said. "There were some rough spots in our season. This is, obviously, the biggest one."
Hasek did not live up to his role as "The Dominator" as he allowed a pair of soft goals that allowed Philadelphia to erase a 1-0 deficit.
With 7.8 seconds remaining in the first period, defenseman Dan McGillis was left wide open at the left point and was able to fire a slap shot under Hasek's right shoulder forging a 1-1 tie.
McGillis helped the Flyers take the lead for good in the second period when he threw a wrist shot through traffic that John LeClair was able to tip into the right corner of the net for his 34th career playoff tally.
The sellout crowd of 19,801 at the First Union Center went into a frenzy and began chanting the goaltender's name, who bounced the Flyers in the opening round in 1998. After Gagne's tally that ended any chance of a Buffalo rally, the fans chanted, "We Want Pittsburgh."
Whom Philadelphia will play in the semifinals is still up in the air, most likely, it will be the seventh-seeded Penguins, who can wrap up a first-round upset of the Washington Capitals on Friday.
Richard Smehlik scored the game's first tally midway through the first period when he beat rookie goaltender Brian Boucher with a slap shot from the left point for his first goal of the series.
Boucher only needed to make 20 saves en route to his first playoff series victory for the Flyers, who scored a power-play goal in each of the five games and finished the series 9-of-14 with the man advantage.
"Im very happy right now," Boucher said. "When you play against a team like that, you can't spot them any goals, if you do you're not going to win. It was a really tough test for us. We should feel like we can beat any team right now."