|Better Leighton than never for Flyers||05.11.10 at 12:39 am ET|
When last Michael Leighton was playing hockey in Boston, he was walking out of Fenway Park, not TD Garden. And he was walking a stunned loser of a classic hockey contest, not the hero who came out of nowhere Monday night to rescue the Flyers and continue their season.
Now, after finishing in relief of the injured Brian Boucher in net for the Flyers Monday night, Leighton believes he can help lead the Flyers to Stanley Cup playoff history.
The Flyers blanked the Bruins, 4-0, at TD Garden and stand just two wins away from becoming the third team in NHL history and just the fourth in the history of the NHL, NBA and MLB to turn the trick.
“We know we can,” Leighton said. “In my eyes we’ve outplayed this team most of the games. The first game we came out slow because we had a long break. We’ve been there every game it’s not like they’re blowing us out. So we’re confident as long as we come out and we’re ready to play every game that we can win each game. We’re just taking it game by game right now. We just have to brush this under the rug now and head back home and focus on that game.”
Leighton was cleared to play before the game after missing nearly two months with a high right ankle sprain but seemed unlikely to play with Brian Boucher taking over the goaltending responsibilities and the Flyers playing hard in front of him.
But then Boucher fell backwards very awkwardly in the opening five minutes of the second period, injuring both knees according to Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren.
“I just went up to him and I didn’t know the extent of the injury so I asked him how he was doing,” Leighton said. “He said great job to me, I said great job to him. He was playing great the first period and that added a little incentive.”
While Boucher was being gingerly helped to his skates and off the ice, Leighton made his first appearance for the Flyers since March 16, when he injured his knee in Nashville.
Maybe it’s only appropriate that, win or lose, the season comes down to Michael Leighton since he was the man who replaced Ray Emery and Brian Boucher at the beginning of the season. Then he was installed as the No. 1 even when Boucher returned.
“I actually couldn’t even believe it happened,” Leighton said of the Boucher injury. “Obviously Ray going down early and then [Brian Boucher] goes down then Ray comes back then I get hurt. It’s definitely been a roller coaster for the goalies this year but the team has done great playing in front of all of us. Ray’s a great goalie and we wish him back and Boucher obviously has done well for this team and he’s gotten us to the position we’re in.”
So why then does Leighton believe the Flyers can continue their roll?
“Because we’re a good team,” he said. “Look at our lineup. As long as we play well and we’re confident in the way we can play, we’re a good team and we’ve shown that. Throughout the season we’ve won the games we’ve needed to win, we’ve beaten some good teams. We’ve obviously lost to some teams that we should have beaten but we beat Detroit we beat Chicago, we beat the good teams. So confidence shouldn’t be a problem because we know we can play with those teams.”
|2nd Period summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 5||05.10.10 at 8:55 pm ET|
This is what it felt like for the Bruins against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 2 of the same round last spring.
They were coming off a 4-1 rout of the Hurricanes in Game 1 and they had just blown away the Canadiens in four straight the round before.
Then Game 2 happened and the whole perspective of the series changed.
Fast forward to tonight and a 3-0 Flyers lead after two periods. The Bruins had just lost a heart-breaker in overtime in Philly but still had a commanding 3-1 series lead, needing just to win Game 5 on home ice to advance to the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 1992.
But the Flyers came to play and fight for their lives, even when Brian Boucher went down in the opening five minutes of the second with what appeared to be a nasty lower body injury. Boucher made a save and then immediately grabbed his midsection. He could barely make it to his skates before being helped off by Chris Pronger.
Enter Michael Leighton, the same Michael Leighton who started at Fenway Park on Jan. 1 and the same Michael Leighton who hadn’t even been active in a game since suffering a high ankle sprain on March 16 in Nashville.
He was tested on a Bruins power play and then the Flyers rewarded him when Scott Hartnell finally got credit for a goal. Then the Bruins started taking undisciplined penalties and Simon Gagne finally made them pay with a power play goal on Philadelphia’s fifth chance of the night.
The Flyers will begin the third period with another power play as Andrew Ference was whistled for a cross-checking penalty.
|1st period Summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 5||05.10.10 at 7:52 pm ET|
The Flyers apparently brought their rabbit foots, horseshoes and other assorted good luck charms for Game 5 as they lead the Bruins, 1-0, after 20 minutes.
Villie Leino gave the Flyers the lead at 6:41 of the first period when Chris Pronger took a shot from the mid-slot that Tuukka Rask could not contain. The rebound came out to the left of Rask and Scott Hartnell was originally credited with the goal when it appeared he poked in the rebound for his first goal of the playoffs and first in 22 games. But a replay showed it was Leino and he was given his second of the playoffs.
The Flyers then had a golden opportunity to add to it when Vladimir Sobotka took a high sticking penalty on Hartnell. But the Bruins killed off 2 minutes, 37 seconds of it when the Flyers took a sloppy penalty on a line change for too many men on the ice.
Toward the end of the Bruins power play, Marc Savard had the puck on his stick and appeared to score, only to have the puck slip behind Boucher and through the crease.
Earlier in the first, Blake Wheeler was all alone in front of Boucher for a point-blank chance, only to have the puck roll off his stick before he could fire a shot. Then there was the shot from the right point that Milan Lucic and Miroslav Satan both appeared to get a piece of. The spotlight came on in front of Boucher, signaling a goal celebration.
One minor problem. The puck bounced straight up in the air and Boucher gloved it.
The Flyers outshot the Bruins, 10-8, in the first period and will start the second period with 33 seconds of power play time after Satan was called for a tripping late in the period.
|The ‘perfect’ road win||05.06.10 at 12:09 am ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Bruins had plenty of chances to be demoralized in the opening four minutes of the game. They fell behind 1-0 on a misplay by a rookie defenseman. They then lost one of their leading playmakers and the same rookie defenseman to injuries.
But instead of hanging their heads, the Bruins produced one of the gutsier performances of the season, quickly turning the tables on the Flyers in a dominating 4-1 win on Wednesday night. As a result, they now stand one win away from their first trip to the Eastern Conference finals since 1992.
These Flyers had no bite to them at all and it was because of the tenacity of the Bruins, even when they lost one of their top specialty teams players in David Krejci to a reported broken wrist and another defenseman, Adam McQuaid to an undisclosed injury.
“I think we want it,” Blake Wheeler said. “I think we realize through the course of this year, we’ve had a real tough time scoring goals and we’ve kind of learned to adapt and score goals maybe not the prettiest way but the more efficient way.”
More importantly, the Bruins showed early in this game the kind of scoring punch they lack for most of the season. Then, once with the lead, they completely shut down the Flyers, even strength and on the penalty kill, even without the services of penalty killer extraordinaire David Krejci.
“The majority of my goals this year have been right in front of the net, off my head, off my skate,” Wheeler said. “You have to do what you have to get goals. And we kind of learned the hard way.”
Wheeler was the catalyst on Wednesday, redirecting Matt Hunwick’s shot from the left point past Brian Boucher. The Philly crowd had barely had time to bark about their first lead of the series when Boston promptly applied the muzzle.
“That tends to happen when the visiting team plays tight defensively and that’s kind of our game,” Wheeler added. “For the most part, I thought we did a really good job of letting Tuukka see the puck. If you don’t give them anything to cheer about, they can’t really get too loud. It was kind of the perfect road game for us. Keep the crowd out of it and keep it as boring as possible.”
And Wheeler’s coach couldn’t agree more about the quality of the win or the character his team showed.
“I thought it was a real good road game on our part if you want to look at the statistics of shots for and against,” Claude Julien said of his team being outshot 35-20 and still winning the game. “They’re a desperate team, they needed this win. For us to go down to a short bench and be able to sustain that and everything else, I thought our guys responded well. If anything, I thought it was a real gutsy effort on our part.”
|Report: Krejci done with broken wrist||05.05.10 at 11:23 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — David Krejci was taken to a local hospital for treatment of an undisclosed injury following a hit by Philadelphia’s Mike Richards in the first period. Krejci was on just his second shift of the game when he was drilled in the shoulder by Richards in the neutral zone. Just before the hit, Krejci found Milan Lucic, who then fed Miroslav Satan for the go-ahead goal at 5:45 of the first period.
“It was a clean hit and there are no issues there,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said afterward.
The Bruins have not confirmed a CSNPhilly report that Krejci suffered a broken wrist and is scheduled to have corrective surgery in Baltimore.
The Bruins also played most of the game without defenseman Adam McQuaid, who was being evaluated by Bruins medical staff after the game for an undisclosed injury. Both Krejci and McQuaid played just two shifts before leaving and not returning.
|2nd Period summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 3||05.05.10 at 8:39 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — For the first time in the series, neither team found the back of the net in a period and, as a result, the Bruins stand just 20 minutes from a nearly insurmountable 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Flyers.
The Flyers ended the period with a power play but as has been the case nearly all season long, the Bruins penalty was more than up to the task.
The only Boston concern remains the injury bug. Neither David Krejci nor defenseman Adam McQuaid will return to the game due to undisclosed injuries, the team’s media relations staff announced late in the second. Both players appeared in just two shifts of the first period before leaving the game.
The Flyers are outshooting the Bruins, 27-17, after 40 minutes.
|1st Period summary: Bruins vs. Flyers Game 3||05.05.10 at 7:48 pm ET|
PHILADELPHIA — The Bruins grabbed a 2-1 lead after the first period and became the first visiting team to lead in the series so far. But it came at a cost as David Krejci and Adam McQuaid were sent to the dressing room with undisclosed injuries.
The first 20 minutes of the series in Philadelphia in the series featured the first lead by the Flyers.
Rookie defenseman Adam McQuaid, who might be playing his last game if Mark Stuart returns Friday for Game 4, turned the puck over at the offensive blue line. The bobble led to a 2-on-1 rush by Flyers Claude Giroux and Aaron Asham.
Andrew Ference tried in vain to get back in time but couldn’t as Giroux found Asham across the low slot. Asham beat Tuukka Rask just 2:32 into the game.
But the Bruins wasted little time gathering themselves and mounting a comeback as less than two minutes later Blake Wheeler scored on a re-direct in front of Brian Boucher at 4:11, his first career playoff goal in 17 games.
Mike Richards, who reportedly threatened to take out Savard during Game 2, took out Krejci instead in the neutral zone. But just before the hit, Krejci found Milan Lucic at the right point. Lucic found a streaking Miroslav Satan down the slot. Satan skated in alone on Boucher and beat the Flyers goalies with a nice backhanded deke at 5:45 for a 2-1 Bruins lead, the first by a visiting team in the series.
Krejci did not return for the remainder of the period.
The Flyers outshot the Bruins, 12-8 in the opening period.
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