Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Leighton pulls a Parent as Flyers top Habs, go two-up in series

Special to The Phanatic Magazine

Michael Leighton stopped all 30 shots he faced, as the streaking Philadelphia Flyers stonewalled Montreal, 3-0, in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals at Wachovia Center.

Coming off his first career playoff shutout in the series opener, Leighton is 4-0 in his four postseason starts, allowing just four goals in those outings, since replacing an injured Brian Boucher during Game 5 against Boston.

Leighton will take a shutout streak of 165 minutes, 50 seconds into Game 3 on Thursday, when the series shifts to the Bell Centre in Montreal.

Danny Briere and Simon Gagne scored power-play goals for the seventh-seeded Flyers, who used a punishing forecheck to suppress the smaller Canadiens and come away with a resounding 6-0 win Sunday.

Ville Leino registered an even-strength goal and one assist for his third consecutive multi-point game.
Philadelphia has ripped off six straight wins since falling behind three games to none in its previous series with the Bruins, and is now remarkably two wins away from its first appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals in 13 years.

History says a 2-0 start is a huge asset for Philadelphia. The Flyers are 16-0 all-time when winning the first two games of a postseason series.

Jaroslav Halak, yanked midway through the second period after allowing four goals on 14 shots in Game 1, made 20 saves for the eighth-seeded Canadiens, who have lost six straight playoff games to Philadelphia.

Montreal had not been blanked in successive playoff games since Bob Sauve of Buffalo did so in Games 1 and 2 of the 1983 Adams Division semifinals.

Briere staked the Flyers to a 1-0 lead with his team-leading ninth goal of the playoffs. On an abbreviated power play, Briere gathered a Claude Giroux pass and snapped a wrister from the outer edge of the right circle that deflected in off Halak's glove at 4:16 of the first period.

Leighton was up to the task in the opening 20 minutes, turning aside all 16 shots fired his way. He came up big at the tail end of a Montreal power play midway through the frame, making three successive stops on Andrei Kostitsyn and a pair of follow-up chances by Michael Cammalleri from in tight.

Gagne gave the Flyers a two-goal cushion at 15:49 of the second. Philadelphia captain Mike Richards centered the puck from behind the Montreal net to Leino, whose backhander was denied by Halak. Gagne crashed the crease and swatted the rebound past the fallen goaltender.

Philadelphia led 3-0 when Halak whiffed with the glove hand on a long shot from a sharp angle along the outer edge of the left circle by Leino at 10:24 of the third.

After seeing the opposition put 26 shots on net in the first two periods, the Flyers erected a defensive wall around Leighton in the third. Montreal mustered just four shots on net -- none of which were quality chances.

NOTES: Leighton is the second Flyers goaltender to post back-to-back playoff shutouts, joining Bernie Parent (April 15-17, 1975, against Toronto)...Since going down 3-0 to Boston in Game 7, the Flyers have run off a franchise record 13 consecutive goals...Briere has a goal in each of the last four games and nine points (5g, 4a) during a six-game point streak...Gagne has a goal in three straight games and seven points (6g, 1a) in six games since returning from a broken toe...The Flyers are 6-1 as the host in this year's playoffs...Philadelphia had lost its last four Game 2s...Montreal right- winger Brian Gionta had a game-high eight shots.

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