SKATING DOWN the left wing, Ville Leino's geometric angle - to find the top corner above Ryan Miller's right shoulder - was nearly impossible.
Almost as impossible as the aftermath.
Leino's rising slap shot pinged the corner of the twine, causing the Wells Fargo Center to explode, as it simultaneously extinguished not only Miller's night but the Sabres' season.
Exit Ryan Miller, enter Jhonas Enroth.
Who's whining now?
Leino's stunner was the emphatic exclamation point on a game that can be explained as little more than sheer dominance for the Flyers - all while playing with their season on the line for the second elimination game in a row.
The Flyers jumped all over Buffalo from the puck drop until the final horn, skating to a convincing 5-2 victory in Game 7 last night and advancing to the second round for the second season in a row.
With the Flyers' mind-numbing "Doop" goal song playing in the background, the Flyers and Sabres traded handshakes in keeping with hockey tradition, as the Flyers took the first-round series, four games to three, without much to sweat over in the third period.
Adding to the irony of Miller taking an early shower was the fact that the Flyers became the first team to win a playoff series by starting three different goaltenders since Detroit knocked off Toronto way back in 1988.
About the only thing missing from the strange scene was the Flyers' first shutout of the season, which was snapped by Tyler Myers when his goal squeaked past Brian Boucher early in the third period.
And if Braydon Coburn's point shot didn't squeak through Miller's pads with 18.5 seconds left in the first period, after even the Flyers' 16-2 advantage in shots didn't do their dominance justice, it might have been a different game. Thoughts of Miller's two 1-0 shutout victories this series would have already started to dance in the Flyers' heads during the first intermission.
"We knew it was coming," Coburn said. "Any goal in a tight game like that is big, but goals at the end of periods and the start of periods are momentum turners. We had a feeling, just because how we were pressing. and we knew it was finally going to go in.
"Sometimes, the goals come like mine from a shot from the point that just hits something on the way in."
With that, the Flyers were able to pile it on in the second period by netting two power-play goals - one from Danny Briere and the other from James van Riemsdyk - to take a 3-0 lead into the final frame. The Flyers were ultimately rewarded for outplaying Buffalo in nearly 15 of the series' 21 periods in regulation.
With the win, the Flyers became only the third team out of the last 11 Game 7 matchups leaguewide to win at home since the start of the 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs.
"I really feel like, sometimes in a Game 7, you can wind yourself up to a point where you can't even function," coach Peter Laviolette said. "The one thing that we really emphasized for Game 7 was staying loose. Game 7 is not wondering whether you're going to play hard or compete hard - all of those things should be built in automatically.
"It was loose before the game and when we went onto the ice, we just played."
Laviolette's Flyers have proved that they thrive when given no other choice. They are now 6-1 over the past two seasons in games in which they can be eliminated from the playoffs.
"It's pretty clutch right now," Leino said. "The crowd was unbelievable. We got results from hard work, and we deserved all of those goals. That's big for us heading to the next series."
The only thing the Flyers do not know yet is their next opponent. Montreal, the sixth seed, forced a Game 7 in Boston tonight by hanging on for a 2-1 victory over the Bruins last night. If Montreal is able to win the series, the Flyers will face the winner of Tampa Bay-Pittsburgh series' deciding Game 7 clash tonight in the Steel City.
No matter what happens in Pittsburgh, though, if Boston wins, the Flyers will have a second-round rematch with the Bruins.
There is no word on when the next series would start, although logic says that with the Sixers clinging to a possible home date Friday night against Miami - depending on tonight's Game 5 outcome in their NBA Eastern Conference quarterfinal - the Wells Fargo Center would likely not be available until Saturday.
Last night, though, was not about the next round's opponent - or the start of the next round. It was about celebrating the fact that a next round seemed like an afterthought for the Flyers only 4 days ago, when they trailed in the series, three games to two.
Instead, the Flyers avoided any lingering chatter that an early exit - after leading the Eastern Conference consecutively for 54 days and the exhaustive talk about being a prohibitive Stanley Cup favorite - might have been one of the most disappointing first-round upsets in Philadelphia sports history.
"We had a lot of confidence in all of the guys in this room," Coburn said. "Game 7 was no different. I think that this team, if we're down one, two, or three goals in a game or down a game or two in a series, I think the guys in this room always believe we have an edge coming back."
With the help of Chris Pronger, who returned to skate at even strength for the first time since March 8, the Flyers were able to take advantage of a weakened Sabres lineup that missed Jason Pominville, Tim Connolly and Patrick Kaleta because of injury.
It was only the third time in franchise history the Flyers have won a series when trailing, 3-2, and, with the goaltending circus, the on- and off-ice yapping between the teams, the hits and the drama, it did not lack for entertainment.
"It was a crazy series," Boucher said. "There's no two ways about it. Just to win is nice. It's just nice to get past this first round so far. We'll take a little breather. But that's why you work so hard all season, to get home-ice advantage to play in front of your fans in a situation like that. And I think that was all the advantage."
The Flyers are now 6-3 all-time in playoff series with the Buffalo Sabres . . . Buffalo is now 0-5 all-time in Game 7s played on the road . . . Dan Carcillo was given both a 10-minute and a game misconduct in the third period . . . The Flyers are now 9-6 all-time in Game 7s; they have won three consecutive Game 7s since 2008 . . . James van Riemsdyk leads all playoff skaters with 43 shots on goal . . . Chris Pronger led the Flyers with five blocked shots. *
For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at
www.philly.com/FrequentFlyers. Follow him on Twitter at