Tyler Ennis emerged from a euphoric Sabres' dressing room 20 minutes after the game with a smile and his cell phone. Fifty-two friends and family members had sent him text messages and left voice mails after his overtime goal in Game Five, which leads to this question:
Where was everybody else?
Ennis was certain to wake up this morning with dozens more after scoring the biggest goal of his young career in the same building in which he scored his first. Wells Fargo Center has been pretty good to the kid, and he enjoyed nothing more than hearing the sounds of silence after he buried Mike Weber's rebound for a 4-3 win over the Flyers.
Man, was it quiet.
"It felt good to silence it a bit," Ennis said. "It's definitely a fun place to play. It's pretty crazy. Some crazy fans were getting into it. It's a fun building to play in, so anytime you can silence the crowd, it's pretty awesome."
The Sabres' victory in Game Five was pretty awesome, indeed. Ennis opened the scoring with a fluke first goal and finished the scoring when he swooped down the right wing knowing Weber was hammering a slapper from the point. The puck bounced off Michael Leighton's pads and landed on his stick.
Ennis unleashed his inner Danny Briere in celebration, throwing an uppercut into the air that might as well have been a shot under Philly's chin. Briere is the guy Ennis admired while growing up in Edmonton. It appears they have something more in common other than their small stature and shifty moves in the offensive zone. They also score big goals.
The Sabres certainly didn't make it easy on themselves. It was an adventure after they coughed up a 3-0 lead over the final two periods of regulation, lost Jason Pominville in the first period and played with a shortened bench. Then again, it's never easy in the postseason, especially against this team in their building.
This has been an entertaining and emotional playoff series, and it's been tighter than skinny jeans. Each team has scored a dozen goals in the five games. Overtime was predictable going into the series, less so after Buffalo built a 3-0 lead. Buffalo can now close out Philly with another win in Game Six in HSBC Arena.
"It was a good win for us," winger Thomas Vanek said. "We'll enjoy it for five or 10 minutes. We know they're going to be really desperate. They're a good road team, and they're going to throw everything at us."
The series is far from over, but the Flyers are running out of answers. Coach Peter Laviolette trotted out AHL goon Zac Rinaldo after watching his team get pushed around.
Rookie goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was chased in Game Two. Brian Boucher was given the hook Friday after allowing three goals on 11 shots and basically handing Buffalo the victory. Leighton relieved Boucher and surrendered the big rebound for the winner.
OK, now what?
Boucher had been superb in a pair of victories and the Game Four loss. He led playoff goalies in goals-against average (1.45) and save percentage (.954) going into the fifth game, but he also remained a source of their potential demise. There was a sense he couldn't be trusted for an entire series.
If anything, the Sabres should have been throwing more shots on net over the first three games with the idea somebody could pounce on a loose puck. The difference Friday was that Boucher didn't give up many bad rebounds. He was too busy coughing up terrible goals.
Ennis wasn't looking to score while skating down the left wing and sending a wrist shot toward the net from below the circle. The puck bounced off Boucher's left knee and slipped past the goal line. Vanek kept that in mind when he found himself behind the goal line later in the period. Vanek flipped a wrist shot that found a hole.
It was almost too easy.
If the Sabres needed a reminder how quickly big leads can disappear in the Stanley Cup playoffs, they could have checked the highlights over the past few days. The New York Rangers had a 3-0 lead over the Capitals before losing in overtime. Los Angeles had a 4-0 lead before falling in OT.
Philadelphia didn't reach the Stanley Cup final by accident last season. The Flyers came back from a 3-0 series deficit before beating Boston in the conference finals. And they had plenty of time remaining after Leighton replaced Boucher. Sure enough, the Flyers stormed back with two goals in the second period.
And the Sabres, in total command early, were reeling.
In a close series, the team with more talent usually finds a way to win. Philly was better than Buffalo is every category except goal, but they also had a big-game player, Briere, that the Sabres knew all too well. Briere has more postseason points than anyone since the lockout, and he tied the game in the third period.
It came down to one shot. Ennis answered the call and delivered a message along the way.
"We knew somebody was going to be a hero," Weber said. "It was great to see [Ennis] get it."