The Flyers were severely shorthanded in Game 5 against Buffalo on Friday night, and it had nothing to do with an excess of penalties.

The team was missing stars Chris Pronger and Jeff Carter, along with Andreas Nodl, a depth winger. All were sidelined with injuries.

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Pronger, the heart of the Flyers' defense, took slapshots Friday morning for the first time since he suffered a broken hand about five weeks ago.

But the hand didn't pass the test.

Hours later, the Flyers decided their team leader would sit out Game 5 at the Wells Fargo Center.

A source close to the situation denied a report that Pronger is out for the rest of the series.

Carter, a 6-foot-3, 200-pounder who had a team-high 36 goals in the regular season, injured his right knee Wednesday in a first-period collision with the Sabres' 6-8, 227-pound Tyler Myers.

Nodl was injured in Game 2.

"We prepare the same way, no matter who's in the lineup," coach Peter Laviolette said before the game. "We don't change everything because [someone] comes out."

Rinaldo's chance

Carter's injury turned into an opportunity for tough-guy Zac Rinaldo, a Phantoms call-up who skated on the fourth line Friday with Blair Betts and Darroll Powe.

Rinaldo, 20, wasn't promoted for his offense. He had three goals and 331 penalty minutes with Adirondack this season.

On his first shift, Rinaldo got his stick in the face of Buffalo's Chris Butler.

Laviolette used Rinaldo over Jody Shelley, who has recovered from orbital-bone surgery.

The Flyers reunited their Alphabet Soup Line: Nik Zherdev ("Z") was with James van Riemsdyk ("JVR") and Claude Giroux ("G").

Stats dept.

The team that scored first won each of the first four games in the series. Buffalo scored 2 minutes and 24 seconds into Game 5.

Dating back to 2006, NHL teams that have scored first had a 308-147 record (.677) heading into Friday.

Miller's feat

With his 1-0 win Wednesday, Ryan Miller became the third goalie in Buffalo's history to post two shutouts in one series, joining Bob Sauve (1983 vs. Montreal) and Dominik Hasek (1994 vs. New Jersey).

Breakaways

In their eight previous series with Buffalo, the Flyers have not lost in a round in which they led the Sabres in games at any point. . . . The Flyers entered Friday with a 33-35 record in playoff overtime games. . . . This is the first time Buffalo has won a pair of 1-0 decisions in the same series. No NHL team had done that since Calgary in a 2004 series against Detroit. The only team to win three 1-0 games in a series: Toronto in a 1994 conference quarterfinals against Chicago. . . . If there is a Game 7, it will be Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center at 7:30 p.m. . . . Entering Friday, Buffalo had taken 30 penalties in the series, tying Anaheim for the most in this year's NHL playoffs.

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BroadStBull