Forward Jeff Carter, who led the Flyers with 36 goals in the regular season but missed the last three playoff games because of a knee injury, is getting closer to returning to the lineup, general manager Paul Holmgren said Wednesday.

Holmgren said he was optimistic Carter would play in the Eastern Conference semifinals, though he wouldn't be specific about his return.

Asked whether there was a chance Carter would play in Game 1, Holmgren would not give the answer.

Carter injured his right knee when he collided with Buffalo's 6-foot-8 defenseman, Tyler Myers, early in Game 4 of the conference quarterfinals and reportedly suffered a severely sprained medial collateral ligament. The Flyers will only call it a "lower-body injury" and say he is "day-to-day."

The injury will not require surgery, Holmgren said.

Carter missed 11 playoff games last season because of a broken foot.

Giroux's spin

The Flyers became the first team to win a playoff series with three starting goalies since Detroit in 1988.

"Yeah, they'll probably do a movie about it," said smiling center Claude Giroux, who had a series-high nine points against Buffalo. "The three goalies came in, and guys didn't give up. We were down, three games to two, and winning in overtime [in Game 6] was a lot of fun and a good experience."

Giroux entered Wednesday tied for the NHL lead in playoff points, while his Haddonfield housemate, Danny Briere, was tied for the lead in goals with six.

Hail, Briere

Briere torched his former team in Round 1.

"He's really good behind the net and bringing it out front in that area, and he capitalized throughout this whole series in front of the crease,"  Myers said. "When we look back, we wish we would have contained him more."

Briere said facing his former teammates "was probably one of the toughest series I've had to go through. . . . It's no secret, in the playoffs there are no friends. It doesn't matter who has the puck, you are going through them. . . . And all of a sudden you have to play against them and slash them, and finish your checks, and not let them win any battles."

Classy gesture

Before talking about his team's 5-2, Game 7 win, Peter Laviolette praised his opponent.

"I just want to say what an incredible job the Buffalo Sabres did," the Flyers coach said. "They played really well down the stretch and got into the playoffs when they were way out at one point. It was really just a great job by their players and coaches to push it to seven games, when anything can happen."

Ratings bonanza

Tuesday's showdown was the most-watched Flyers game in Comcast SportsNet's history, delivering a 12.6 rating (383,000 households), with a peak of 14.7 (446,000 households) at 9:45 p.m.

The ratings topped the previous high set May 14, 2010, when the Flyers came back from a 3-0 deficit in the game, and in the series, to beat Boston in the conference semifinals.

Boucher's payback

In Game 6, the Flyers faced a 3-1 deficit when goalie Brian Boucher replaced Michael Leighton at the start of the second period. A loss would have ended their season.

"These guys rallied around me after I got in there in Game 6, and they played like gangbusters," Boucher said. "I can't say enough about my teammates and how much I wanted to win for them [Tuesday] and do a good job."


In the conference quarterfinals, Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen led both teams with a plus-9 rating. . . . Sergei Bobrovsky, who was Boucher's backup in Game 7, figures to have the same role in the second round. . . . Against Buffalo, the Flyers' Ville Leino had three goals on eight shots for a 37.5 shooting percentage.