Philadelphia was able to control the game all night as the Flyers teammates Jeff Carter and Aaron Asahm scored in just over 90 seconds as the Flyers finally ended the Montreal Canadians dream playoff run to clinch the Eastern Conference Title. And advanced to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1997 as the Flyers will play the Blackhawks starting on Saturday Night in Chicago.
Micheal Leighton is continuing to grow his legend in these playoffs as the win takes him to 6-1 in the playoffs with an unreal 1.45 GAA & .948 SV%, which are both leading the playoffs among goalies. And with 3 shutouts in this series, this is making him very popular and for him to get a big time contract when the chance comes up.
So this year's Stanley Cup Final gets underway this weekend as the Flyers will travel to Chicago for Game 1 of this year's Stanley Cup Final. For the Blackhawks, this is the first time since 1992 they are back in the Final while the Flyers are back since 1997 when they lost to Detroit.
From the National Hockey League Website: www.nhl.com
Habs Shocked: www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=530085
Richards Up Front: www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=530086
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Hockey sometimes demands a terrible price be paid for glory.
The Philadelphia Flyers paid that exorbitant toll in the countless ways Monday Night as they ended a 13 year drought between Stanley Cup Final appearances with gritty game 5 win against the Montreal Canadiens.
The 4-2 victory at the Wachovia Center came about because the Flyers were willing to pay any price to assure the date with the Blackhawks in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, a series that begins on Saturday in Chicago.
"You put your body on the line, whetever it's finishing hits, blocking shots, and we've done a great job of that so far in the playoffs, and I think it's shown with the victories," Flyers captain Mike Richards said, moments after he grabbed the Prince of Wales Trophy from Deputy Bill Daley and highlighted it to a jubilant Philadelphia Dressing Room.
Richards, more then anyone, threw his body into harm's way all night; but never more so on that goal that the game at 1-all and erased the Montreal lead created by Brian Gionta in the game's first minute -- a goal that threatened put Philadelphia back on its heels as in a demoralizing Game 3 loss.
Richards refused to let that happen, turning a dangerous penalty kill situation into a back-breaking goal from which the Canadiens could not recover.
Richards got a step on Roman Hamrlik in an effort to chase down a hopeful clearing pass by Cladue Giroux, which forced a desperate attempt by Montreal Goalie Jaroslav Halak to play the puck at the top of the left faceoff circle.
Amazingly, all three players arrived at the puck at the same time in a startling collision that sent the puck further toward the Montreal goal. Richards somehow picked himself up, claimed the loose puck and deposited net before anyone else on the ice could react.
"Well, that's why our leader," said veteran defensemen Chris Pronger, who played more then 27 minutes and blocked three shots to pay his part of the dues. "It's that determination and that grit. You know, diving head first for the puck and being first one up after a big collision like that to try to get free to the loose puck and put it to the empty net."
Before it was over, Richards would set up a couple of goals by Jeff Carter to close out the game and have his teammates in a state of awe.
"He leads by example," said grinding forward Ian Laperriere, who blocked two shots despite having his head after suffering a brain contusion while blocking a shot in the first round. "Tonight was another example; he went through everybody. I've played with great players and he's got that in him - greatness."
On the game-winner, 4:31 into the 2nd period, Carter set up behind the goal line and pushed a pass from Kimmo Timonen into the slot, where Carter could one-time it past Halak.
Then, in the game's final minute, with Halak on the bench for an extra skater, Richards refused to give up on the puck heading towards the empty net. He fought off a back-check attempt from Thomas Plekanec to leave the puck for Carter, who dumped it under Josh Georges and into the goalless net.
Did we mention that Carter was playing on a broken foot that was broken a little more then a month ago and that he was still walking around with a pronounced limp?
On the Aaron Asham, the man that scored a goal that made 2-1 in the 2nd period, was one of the most dominant players on the ice - despite playing just 8 minutes - in getting four promo scoring chances before finally beating Halak with a roof shot right on the goalie's doorstep.
How about Timonen, a smallish defensemen not known for his physical contributions? He blocked six shots and was the target of several checks from Montreal players during his 27 minutes on the ice. Still, he found time to assists on Carter's Game Winning Goal.
"Every game I hit hard -- doesn't matter if it's Montreal or some other team," Timonen said. "I got a couple of hits on my head today. But I like said, it's a playoff game; you take some, you give some. Today, obviously, I took a couple of good ones. You've got to take it. First period I actually took a stupid penalty there because, you know, Scott Gomez hit me from behind. But its one of those things, like I said, sometimes you have to suck it up."
And, that is just what the Flyers did all night Monday and throughout this five game domination of the Cinderella Canadiens, who had shown their own grit and determination in knocking off the top seeded Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh, the defending Stanley Cup Champions.
Montreal had already erased series deficits of 3-1 and 3-2 in the past two rounds, but could not find an answer for Philadelphia's relentless pressure or the brilliant goaltending of Micheal Leighton, who stopped 95 of 102 shots in the series.
"I thought they did a good job playing a disciplined style, very disciplined game plan and I thought we didn't do a good job at that and our execution was not were it needed to be to challenge them a little more that way," said Michael Cammalleri, Montreal's most dangerous offensive weapon this post-season. "So hats off for playing as well as they did."
Pronger also believed it was Philadelphia's discipline and willingness to pay the hefty price that delivered them to the Championship Round.
"We've always believed in the system and the players and what we're doing on the ice. It's just a matter of us getting into that rhythm and buying into the system," he said. "It's guys blocking shots and doing all the little things. that make up a lot of little battles during the course of the game to win the war. We've done a very good job that far of that."
Philadelphia Wins Series 4-1
Montreal Canadiens 2 Philadelphia Flyers 4 (1-1, 0-2, 1-1)
0-1 MTL: Brian Gionta (Gomez, Hamrlik) 0:59 1st
1-1 PHI: Mike Richards (Giroux) 4:25 1st
1-2 PHI: Arron Asham (Carle) 3:07 2nd
1-3 PHI: Jeff Carter (Richards, Timonen) 4:31 2nd
2-3 MTL: Scott Gomez (Subban, Gionta) 6:53 3rd
2-4 PHI: Jeff Carter (EN) (Richards) 19:37 3rd
SOG: MTL 27 PHI 26
PIM: MTL 14 Minutes on 7 Penalties PHI 8 Minutes on 4 Penalties
Goalies: MTL Jarsolav Halak 22 SVS on 25 Shots PHI Michael Leighton 25 SVS on 27 Shots
3rd Star: Kimmo Timonen (PHI)
2nd Star: Claude Giroux (PHI)
1st Star: Mike Richards (PHI)
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