Leighton stays perfect as Flyers take 2-0 lead to Montreal

(Getty)

The story of the 2010 NHL playoffs has been focused around a team and a goaltender. The team being the Philadelphia Flyers, which we all know the story. The player, well, that belongs to Flyers netminder Michael Leighton.

FACT: Last night’s game 2 3-0 shutout win for the Flyers was Leighton’s second consecutive playoff shutout. Becoming the first Flyers goalie since Bernie Parent to record back-to-back playoff shutouts since 1975, which happens to be the last time the Philly won a Stanley Cup.

FACT: Leighton’s stat line is surreal: A 0.87 GAA with a .969 save percentage after Game 2. His shutout streak stands at 165:50, that’s eight straight periods. Only Brian Boucher’s streak is longer in franchise history, at 184:45 from way back in 2000.

FACT: The Flyers have scored 13 straight goals since giving up the first three in Boston during Game 7 in which they scored four straight to win the series.

Leighton was the bona fide number one key to last night’s 3-0 victory. The first period was all Les Canadiens. The Habs put forth a barrage of shots during the first. Out of the 30 saves Leighton stopped, 16 came in the first and six of those 16 came from Montreal’s power-play.

“Michael Leighton saved our game in the first period,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “We gave up way too many scoring chances. We weren’t prepared physically or mentally. We got dominated.

“One guy stood on his head and we were able to chip one in on the power play on Danny’s [Briere] goal. You don’t want to roll those dice too many times.”

Leighton, 29, prepared himself mentally for Montreal to throw a lot of shots his way.

“I knew after last game they would throw a lot more pucks at the net,” Leighton said. “And drive the net a little harder. I think that period they definitely did that. They were throwing it from all angles and shooting at sticks. And I kinda expected that. It was a good first period for me. I felt good.”

Leighton has stopped 70 consecutive shots and has not allowed a goal since Bruins’ Milan Lucic scored 14:10 into the first period of Game 7.

Remember an article I posted last week about how this team could have destiny on its shoulders? Thanks to Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly for these little tidbits. Kind of creepy:

“Magical 35s. Do you believe in destiny? It’s been 35 years since the Flyers won their last Stanley Cup. Leighton equals Parent’s mark of 35 years ago. Chris Pronger turned 35 this season. And the all-time “number” stat in all of hockey remains the Flyers’ 35-game unbeaten streak. Think this may be the year the Flyers win a third Stanley Cup?” (Panaccio)

The Flyers had help from the usual suspects. Both Simon Gagne and Mr. May Briere netted goals. For Gagne, it was sixth goal in as many games. Briere continues his scoring tear, he now has nine goals in this postseason and is tied with Mike Richards for the team lead with 18 points.

Ville Leino, who had a pretty forgettable first period, scored his third goal of the playoffs at 10:24 in the final frame. Leino now has 11 points(3G, 8A) in 10 playoff games.

Flyers fans should be thanking their lucky stars when they see Leino on the ice. Remember, GM Paul Holmgren traded oft-injured Ole-Christian Tollefsen to Detroit to snag Leino. Boy, the Red Wings must be kicking themselves every time Leino hits the ice. 

As noted earlier, the Flyers have scored 13 straight goals since game 7 in Boston, the most since the Anaheim Ducks scored 13 straight in 2006.

For the Flyers, as poor as they looked in the first period, Briere believes this team hasn’t yet played at the top of their level.

“The thing that I like is the fact that we all feel like we haven’t played our best games yet, and we still have a lot to prove,” added Briere. 

“So I think that’s a positive that we still have more in the tank. You know, we want to prove that it’s winning on – we’ve been winning, but it’s not just a fluke.”

If that’s the case, the next time the Flyers return to Philadelphia very well could be a meeting at the Skate Zone in Voorhees to prepare for a Stanley Cup final matchup.

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