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Ruff's line shuffle produces the desired result; Assist on game-winner highlights strong effort by Niedermayer

Lindy Ruff's line shuffling resulted in just one goal Wednesday but it was all the Buffalo Sabres needed.

Veteran Rob Niedermayer went into the middle between Tyler Ennis and Jason Pominville and all three were involved on Pominville's first-period tap-in that provided the margin in Buffalo's stirring 1-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

"I really felt at even strength we needed more out of our top players," Ruff said. "I just tried to put some workers with some of our goal scorers, balance everything out knowing it's really going to be a long series."

Thomas Vanek, with no even-strength goals and a minus-4 rating in the series, was shifted to wing with Paul Gaustad and Patrick Kaleta. Tim Connolly centered Nathan Gerbe and Drew Stafford. The only line that remained the same from Game Three was Cody McCormick with Brad Boyes and Mike Grier.

The goal came at 9:38 of the first and Ennis, not normally a plumber, did plenty of dirty work down low.

In a neat tic-tac-toe play, he dug it out from behind the Flyers' net, found Niedermayer in front and Niedermayer neatly passed it across the crease to Pominville.

"I was skating in and kind of fumbled it a bit," Ennis said. "I saw that Butler was going to get it and would rim it around [the boards]. I just tried to get down low, saw Nieds coming in and tried to kick it to him. And he made a great pass.

"[Niedermayer] has been skating really well, made a good play [on Cody McCormick's goal in Game Two], a great play on my goal," said Pominville. "He's been using his speed. He's reliable defensively. He's been playing really well."

Niedermayer, appearing in his 113th career playoff game, is plus-2 in the series after posting a minus-8 rating in the regular season. He scored just five goals in 71 games.

"He gave us a real good game and that was the hope, that we can get to the playoffs and play a guy like him," Ruff said. "He was the one guy who really took control of the puck. When he had opportunities, he didn't get rattled. There was no panic in his game. That comes with playing the amount of years he's played and playing in the Stanley Cup finals."

Niedermayer is the only member of the Sabres to hoist the Stanley Cup, doing so with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.

"He's played great, working really hard for us this series," Ennis said. "He's played a lot of playoff games and he knows what it takes. It's no surprise to any of us that he's playing this well."

Niedermayer and Pominville also played much of the final minute as the Sabres held off the Flyers' desperate attempts to get a tying goal.

"Those are situations you want to be out there," Pominville said.

e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

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