No Hangover for Flyers in Wipeout of Montreal
The Flyers soundly defeated the Montreal Canadiens, 6-0, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final at Wachovia Center. Along the way, they shooed away any concerns that the team was emotionally drained after having to win four games in a row in their history-making second round comeback victory over Boston.
"If anything," said Flyers wing James van Riemsdyk, who scored a goal, "the comeback has given us more confidence. I really thought the momentum carried into tonight."
Philadelphia and Montreal played a sluggish first period, not surprising for two teams coming off seven-game series in the second round. The Flyers, however, got the vital opening goal from defenseman Braydon Coburn on a power play just under four minutes into the game.
"I didn't like the way we looked in the first, but we got out of the period with a lead" said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. "I really liked the way we skated and battled in the second period."
The end result was Philadelphia turning a 1-0 lead into a 4-0 advantage 10 minutes into the second period.
As efficient as the Flyers were, the Canadiens were often non-competitive -- a rarity in their superlative postseason to this point. Montreal was at its worst on the goal to make it 2-0, when Claude Giroux pushed a faceoff drop past opposing center Scott Gomez, caught flat-footed. The puck ended up on the stick on van Riemsdyk, who was allowed to stand in front of the goal untouched by Canadiens rookie defenseman P. K. Subban. The 20-year-old van Riemsdyk, from New Jersey, knocked the puck past Jaroslav Halak.
"What brought us success in the first two rounds was our ability to compete," Montreal head coach Jacques Martin said in his postgame press conference. "Tonight, we didn't compete at the level we need to."
Philadelphia added goals in the second by Daniel Briere -- on a slapper with Scott Hartnell screening Halak -- and Simon Gagne on the power play before Halak was mercy-pulled for Carey Price at the mid-way mark of the game. The Flyers have out-scored opponents 21-9 in the second period during this postseason.
Hartnell made it 5-0 at 12:13 of the third with an assist by Briere, who now has 37 points in 36 playoff games as a Flyer. Giroux scored the final goal of the game just over a minute later.
Michael Leighton was solid in goal for the Flyers, stopping 28 Montreal shots for the shutout. Leighton was especially sharp during a two-minute kill when Chris Pronger took an interference penalty soon after the Flyers took a 3-0 lead.
"They took a lot of pressure off me," Leighton said of his teammates. "We limited the odd-man rushes. After the first period, the guys were flying tonight."
In the wake of their embarrassing defeat in Philadelphia -- the worst Game 1 loss in franchise history since 1919 -- the Canadiens have one rallying cry. In their 6-3 loss in Game 1 of the second round against Pittsburgh, the Canadiens were almost this bad. We know what happened the rest of the series.
"In Game 1 against Pittsburgh, we battled," said Canadiens defenseman Hal Gill. "Tonight, we didn't give ourselves a chance."
Carter Could Return: According to a report out of Philadelphia, Flyers wing Jeff Carter will skate with the team on Monday and could return by Game 3 of the series. Carter has been out since suffering a leg injury in Game 4 of the first round series victory over New Jersey. Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren denied the report.