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Serious injuries would have carried over to next round

Coach Lindy Ruff shed some light on the Buffalo Sabres' injury woes after Tuesday's season-ending loss to the Philadelphia Flyers and did not paint a pretty picture as to what the Sabres would have been forced to deal with had they advanced to play the Washington Capitals.

Ruff revealed the leg gash suffered by Jason Pominville in Game Five was serious, and that a tendon had been sliced. The winger needs surgery and the injury would have kept him sidelined 4-6 months had the injury happened during the regular season. Ruff also said center Tim Connolly would have been out six weeks with an undisclosed injury after taking Mike Richards' hit Sunday.

After leaving his postgame press conference, Ruff told a Toronto Sun reporter Pominville's injury was "the worst gash I've ever seen."

In addition, Rob Niedermayer's status would have been uncertain as he played just 12 minutes Tuesday after taking a hit from behind from Danny Briere, who earned only a two-minute penalty on the play.

Patrick Kaleta, Mike Grier and Jordan Leopold were all surprise absentees from the morning skate although Grier (knee) and Leopold (flu) managed to play in the game. Derek Roy, Mark Mancari, Jochen Hecht and Andrej Sekera were all inserted in the lineup as Matt Ellis and the struggling Steve Montador were scratched.

Kaleta did not make the trip and there were rumors he was out because of a broken hand. It's unclear if he suffered the injury during Game Six, especially since he played right through to the final shift of overtime, or if there was some situation in the locker room after the game where he suffered an injury.

Ruff scoffed when pressed on Kaleta's situation following the morning skate.

"I'm not commenting," Ruff said. "After the game? You guys like to make up crap. That's a good story, that one."

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Paul Gaustad was disappointed by his two key faceoff losses that led to the Flyers' first two goals.

"It's tough on me," said Gaustad. "You win some, you lose some, I try hard on them. They made some good plays. They have good centermen and they have a good team."

Gaustad is the Sabres' top faceoff man. In fact, he entered the playoffs at 59.6 percent -- the top figure in the league for players who qualified in the postseason.

He entered Tuesday's game just below that figure, at 56.1 percent for the series (10th in the NHL). Gaustad had his third straight 12-goal season this year but again came up dry in the playoffs. In fact, he has no goals in 38 career playoff games dating to 2006.

"It comes down to details and little things," Gaustad said. "Getting down 1-0 is tough but we had to respond a little bit better than what we did."

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Buffalo defenseman Marc-Andre Gragnani finished the series with six assists, one shy of the team playoff record for a series set three times by Gilbert Perreault and equaled by Dale Hawerchuk and Miroslav Satan. Gragnani was also tied with Pierre Turgeon (1988) for most points by a rookie (7).

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The NHL announced Tuesday that the Sabres will play an exhibition game Oct. 4 against German club team Adler Mannheim at SAP Arena in Mannheim as part of the NHL Premiere Challenge.

Hecht, who hails from Mannheim, played five seasons with Adler Mannheim, most recently in 2004-05. Adler Mannheim played an exhibition last season against the San Jose Sharks and fell in a shootout, 3-2.

The Sabres' training camp plans have not been finalized but they are expected to be in Europe for around a week. They open the regular season with games Oct. 7 against the Anaheim Ducks in Helsinki, Finland and Oct. 8 against the Los Angeles Kings in Berlin.

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Briere's six goals are the most against the Sabres in a playoff series since Michel Goulet had six for Quebec in 1985 According to ESPN, the Flyers are the first team in the expansion era (post-1967) to get two wins in a playoff series from a relief goalie. Philly did not lead in regulation at any point in Games Four, Five or Six Rookie Sergei Bobrovsky served as Boucher's backup. He had not even dressed since getting pulled in Game Two. The Delaware County Times is reporting Michael Leighton was emotionally despondent over his performance in Game Six and went AWOL on the Flyers, not reporting to practice Monday, and was not in the building Tuesday. Through the first six games of the series, the teams had been tied or separated by one goal for 87.5 percent of the playing time (324:03 of 370:14). That was by far the most of any of the eight first-round series.

e-mail: mharrington@buffnews.com

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