For the 3rd time in as many series, the Montreal Canadiens have been placed on the brink of elimination. After mounting gutsy comebacks against the Capitals and Candiens, the Habs will have no shortage of confidence, but they will certainly have their work cut out for them as the Flyers showed an incredible ability to bounce back from an impressive performance by the Canadiens in Game 1 and got another great effort from Michael Leighton as they shut out Montreal, 3-0.
Leighton stopped every shot he faced, but the Flyers did a great job of keeping Montreal’s opportunities to a minimum, limiting them to just 17 shots. Chris Pronger recorded just one assist, but had himself a great game, with 3 blocked shots and over 31 minutes of ice time, earning himself the game’s first star. His defensive partner, Matt Carle, was honored with the 2nd star, after blocking six shots and logging over 26 minutes of ice time himself. >
Claude Giroux had the game’s first and last goals on a couple of great individual efforts. Early in the 2nd period, he streaked down the left wing boards and drove to the net, pulling the puck to his backhand before quickly changing angles and roofing a wrist shot over Halak’s short side. With Halak on the bench in the game’s closing minutes, the speedy forward outworked both Montreal defensemen, stripping the puck from Roman Hamrlik at the blueline and outhustling Jaroslav Spacek down the boards before sliding the puck into the empty net.
Ville Leino had the game’s only other goal, giving the Flyers a 2-0 lead with just over 7 minutes left in the 2nd period, taking a breakaway pass in the neutral zone and fooling Halak with a side to side puck move before stretching to wrap it all the way around the sprawling keeper’s outstretched pad.
In a game that saw both teams lock it down defensively, it was the Flyers that were able to take advantage of their opportunities. The Canadiens have been on their last legs before, but considering that the Flyers have won 7 of their last 8, this mountain might be a bit too tall to climb. Adding to the Canadiens’ difficulties is the fact that Jeff Carter, once thought to be out of action for the season, returned to action much earlier than expected after having surgery on his foot, and looked right at home back in the lineup.