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Niedermayer's little play becomes huge

Veteran Rob Niedermayer has made plenty of little plays in this series and he made a big one Friday.

Niedermayer kept the puck inside the Philadelphia zone on a shift during overtime, and Steve Montador then fed Mike Weber for the shot that turned into Tyler Ennis' game-winning goal.

Niedermayer assisted on Ennis' first-period tally and was plus-2 while playing 18 minutes, 12 seconds. That was his third-biggest load of ice time all season and the 36-year-old's most since posting his season high of 20:05 on Jan. 6 at San Jose.

"We've had to push him into a very significant role and he's given us everything he's got," coach Lindy Ruff said Saturday. "He's been very good for us. That comes with years of experience."

"In the playoffs, there's a lot of up and downs and momentum shifts," said Niedermayer, a veteran of three Stanley Cup finals and a champion with Anaheim in 2007. "You've got to stick with it. In the second period, they really pushed hard and we stayed with it and were able to eke it out at the end. It was a big game."

Niedermayer and Ennis are tied with a team-high rating of plus-3 in the series. Niedermayer, Brad Boyes and Ennis were consistently hemming the Flyers in their zone most of the night.

"It takes away from their rush chances," he said. "They have so many guys over there who are so good with the puck and strong on the rush, we tried to take that away."

Niedermayer said he's been particularly impressed with Ennis, who posted the first two-goal playoff game of his career.

"He was really wanting the puck in that game," Niedermayer said. "He's so creative and shifty when he gets the puck. That's when he's at his best. He was pretty excited [after the OT goal]. He's played so well for us all year and he's a guy we rely on to score, so that was great to see."

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The injured Derek Roy and Jochen Hecht joined Cody McCormick and Portland call-ups Mark Mancari and Dennis Persson in skating Saturday at the Northtown Center at Amherst while Ruff & Co. were meeting the media downtown.

Regarding Roy and Hecht, Ruff said, "Help is on its way." Roy has not played since suffering a torn quadriceps on Dec. 23. Hecht has been out since March 29 with what's believed to be a concussion.

"Derek is very close, very close," Ruff said of Roy. "I'm putting him in the category 'within days.' "

But Ruff was evasive about the chance Roy could play today.

Told, "Tomorrow is a day," Ruff said, "You're correct." Asked if Roy could play in Game Six, Ruff said, "Did I say 'day' or 'days'?' "

Roy is certainly going to be ready to play at the start of the second round if the Sabres advance and Hecht should play early in that round as well. Roy may even be an option if there is a Game Seven in this series.

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The biggest question facing the Flyers today revolves around their goaltending. They have to decide whether to go back to Brian Boucher, who was yanked after giving up three goals in the first period Friday, or stay with Michael Leighton.

Leighton, who led the Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals last year but only played one NHL game this season, allowed only the OT goal.

Asked about his decision after the game Friday, coach Peter Laviolette said, "I'm going to sleep on that one and probably give you nothing."

"I would very much like to redeem myself," Boucher said. "It was my responsibility [Friday night]. I take ownership in that. To put your team in a hole like that, when it's an important game, they didn't deserve that."

Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger again skated and took slap shots Saturday at the team's practice facility in Voorhees, N.J., but the Flyers continue to issue no updates.

CSNPhilly.com reported Friday that both Pronger and Jeff Carter are out for the rest of the series but the Philadelphia Inquirer has reported that Pronger remains a possibility for today. Carter is definitely out.

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Ruff on his team's 29 blocked shots in Game Five:

"That's what the playoffs are all about: It's a new level of desperation. We're going to ask guys to do a bigger job for us. Shot blocking sends a message back to your goaltender and to guys on your team that you'll do whatever it takes."

e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com