BUFFALO, N.Y. – Goalie Brian Boucher got his second chance. Chris Pronger’s presence provided an inspirational boost. And thanks to Ville Leino, the Philadelphia Flyers made this comeback stick against the Buffalo Sabres.

On the brink of elimination, and with the Flyers enduring the latest in a string of goalie shuffles, Boucher stopped 24 shots in yet another relief effort and Leino capped Philadelphia’s two-goal comeback by scoring 4:43 into overtime in a 5-4 win on Sunday to force Game 7 in the first-round playoff series.

The deciding game Tuesday at Philadelphia will close out what’s been a tightly contested and topsy-turvy series, in which five of the six games have been won by one goal.

“I’ve been through some pretty wild and crazy games through my career,” said Danny Briere, the former Sabres co-captain who scored twice against his former team. “And today was one of them, the roller-coaster ride that it was. My heart definitely skipped a few beats today.”

His wasn’t the only one.

Michael Leighton became the third Flyers goalie to start a game this series, then became the third Flyers goalie to be yanked, allowing three goals on the first seven shots he faced.

Enter Boucher, who made up for his dreadful performance in a 4-3 overtime loss on Friday, in which he allowed three goals on 11 shots.

And unlike what happened in Game 5, in which the Flyers rallied from a 3-0 deficit before faltering, Leino sealed this victory during a scramble in front.

Kris Versteeg helped set it up. After getting his first shot blocked, Versteeg gained the rebound and flipped the puck toward net, bouncing it off several players. The puck fell in the crease, and Leino — a step ahead of defender Chris Butler — slid it into the open side behind diving goalie Ryan Miller.

Scott Hartnell had a goal and an assist, and James van Riemsdyk also scored for the Flyers.

Now it’s the Sabres turn to bounce back in a season in which they’ve been counted out before. After a dreadful start to the year and after losing top-line center Derek Roy to a leg injury in December, Buffalo responded by going 29-11-6 in its final 46 games to clinch a playoff spot in its second-to-last game of the season.

“We haven’t done it the easy way, and we’re not going to bail out now,” Sabres Coach Lindy Ruff said. “We’ve got to win the next one.”

Buffalo will have to do it without center Tim Connolly, who has already been ruled out for Game 7 after being shaken up in the second period when he was shoved head first into the boards by Flyers captain Mike Richards. Richards was penalized for boarding.

The good news is, the Sabres are expected to have Roy back.

Thomas Vanek scored twice for Buffalo, and Rob Niedermayer and Nathan Gerbe also scored for the Sabres.


PREDATORS 4, DUCKS 2: Nick Spaling scored his second goal of the game at 4:53 of the third period, and Nashville advanced to the Western Conference semifinals for the first time with a victory over visiting Anaheim.

Steve Sullivan also scored, David Legwand had an empty-netter and Jordin Tootoo assisted on Spaling’s goals. The Predators, making their sixth postseason appearance, won the series 4-2.

Jason Blake scored a power-play goal, and Teemu Selanne also had a goal for the Ducks, his sixth of the series.

BLACKHAWKS 4, CANUCKS 3: Ben Smith scored on a rebound at 15:30 of overtime, and the defending Stanley Cup champions forced a seventh game in the opening-round series with a win at home.

Vancouver, which had the NHL’s best record during the regular season, has lost three straight after it appeared it was in control of the series. Game 7 is Tuesday in Vancouver.

Smith, a rookie, followed a hard shot from the point by Niklas Hjalmarsson that bounced off goalie Roberto Luongo.

Luongo didn’t start but was called upon in the third period when Cory Schneider had to be helped off the ice after he tried to stop Michael Frolik’s penalty shot that tied it at 3.