The wait for Philly is finally over. After 13 years in the wilderness, the Flyers reached the Stanley Cup finals after a 4-2 victory at home to Montreal. For a team like the Flyers, 13 years is a long time to wait. However, their passion and commitment saw them breeze past a tired Canadiens team, winning the series four games to one.
Montreal looked set to escape elimination once again as Brian Gionta caught the Flyers sleeping and beat Michael Leighton with ease with just under a minute gone. However, the Habs’ lead didn’t last long as Mike Richards leveled the score with a shorthanded goal. Richards beat Jaroslav Halak and Roman Hamrlik to the puck after a long dump by Claude Giroux. All three players collided and the captain was able to score in the empty net, and start a resurgent Philadelphia display to book their place in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Montreal managed to keep the home side at bay for the rest of the first period, but Philly took over in the second. Terrible Canadiens defense allowed the Flyers to score two quick goals. Arron Asham made the most of a lapse by Hal Gill and easily beat Halak to restore the Philly lead. Moments later it looked all but over for Montreal as Jeff Cater finished off a fantastic passing move to put the Flyers in the clear.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said: “It was a strong first period by both teams, it was tight checking.
There weren’t a lot of chances but it seemed like the second periods
decided the series for me. We were able to play good defense and
generate chances and the second period was big in all games.”
The Habs stepped up a gear in the third period and made it a one-goal game when Scott Gomez found the net with 14 minutes remaining. However, Leighton would not be beaten again, and Carter added his second of the game late on with an empty-net goal.
Richards was instrumental to the Flyers success. Their key players are playing well together and despite being seeded 7th in the Eastern Conference, they will believe they are strong enough to go all the way.
Laviolette added :”Really it’s the players who deserve the credit. They played extremely
hard, they were faced with a lot of adversity this year and they were
resilient. At Christmas time we were 29th in the league, so they were
the ones who had to go out there and fight back and they did – all
The Flyers took a leaf out of Montreal’s playoff book by putting their bodies on the line at all costs. A committed performance from the whole roster and solid goaltending by Michael Leighton is enough to see the Prince of Wales champions through to the finals against Chicago with game one taking place on Saturday night.