Something was blunting the edges of the Philadelphia Flyers skates, although players, coaches and even management denied that anything was laid out on the pathway that leads from the visiting locker room or the ice in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals.
"We had skate issues tonight, that's for sure," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "You know, we lost [Mike] Richards three times, Kimmo [Timonen] two times.
"Sandgate" began when apparently some Flyers players complained that something had been placed over the mats that normally protect the skates as they head to and from the locker room between periods.
But after the game, Flyers didn't hint there was sabotage involved.
"I'm not sure," Richards said. "I didn't check the carpet for it. But I was stepping on sticks and I hit the post twice I think too, so [equipment manager Harry] Bricker said that they were a little bit too big for being sand pellets."
"I don't know anything about," said Philly forward Ville Leino with a smile. "It's probably just a rumor."
Flyers GM Paul Holmgren also denied anything was a foot.
Familiar Territory: The Canadiens haven't had it any other way.
For the third consecutive series, the Habs will face elimination when the series shifts to Philadelphia on Monday. The Flyers are 5-0 when facing elimination, winning three in a row to advance past the Washington Capitals in the first round and twice to close out the Pittsburgh Penguins last round.
"It's a matter of execution," Montreal forward Brian Gionta said. "We've had our backs against the wall before. We know what we can do when everything is on the line."
Lappy is Back: Ian Laperriere pointed to a scuffle with 5:41 left in the first period when the gritty Flyers realized he was back.
"I took a couple punches to the face and that kind of got me going," said Laperriere, who was called for roughing along with Montreal's Roman Hamrlik. "I knew I could take a hit. I won't lie to anybody. I was nervous all night last night, and today just to take that first hit, and I did, and I got bumped around like I usually do."
Laperriere played with a clear face guard and was assured by doctors that it was safe to go back on the ice.
"I'm a family guy," he said. "I've got two kids at home. I've got a wife. I've got to think about that. I didn't want to be selfish, and all four of them were 100 percent sure that I wasn't. That doesn't mean I won't get hit, but I wasn't more at risk than before."
Carcillo Odd Man Out: With the return of Jeff Carter and Laperriere from injury, Laviolette had to make some scratches.
One of the decisions was a bit of surprise as grinding forward and minor Philly cult hero Dan Carcillo was left out of the lineup along with Andreas Nodl.
"It's the toughest thing I've had to do this year," Laviolette said. "I love Danny Carcillo and the way he plays the game. If two people are going into your lineup, then two people have to come out of your lineup, and it's just those are tough decisions."