With this afternoon's convincing 3-0 victory over Montreal, the Flyers find themselves one win away from the Stanley Cup Finals.
Montreal tried everything to even up the series. Hell, they even threw sand in the Flyers locker room hallway to ruin their skate blades! Okay, that's exaggerated. But, throughout the game, several Flyers (Giroux, Richards, Timonen to name a few) left the ice on multiple occasions to have their blades resharpened. According to NBC, because there was sand in the hallway, the Flyers requested towels to be placed on the floor in the hallway between the ice and the Flyers' locker room. In postgame, Peter Laviolette, Lappy, and others denied the rumors. However, Kimmo Timonen implied that there had to be a reason for all of the equipment problems and that maybe someone dropped a substance and "forgot to clean it up". Interesting to say the least.
The Flyers played a perfect road game this afternoon. Although they were pinned in their own end for much of the early part of the first, Leighton stood tall. By not allowing Montreal to score early, the Flyers took the fans out of the game. It looked as though the Flyers would score first after a mad scramble in the Habs crease late in the first, but the puck slid under defenseman Hal Gill on the goal line and the puck stayed out.
The Orange and Black took control in the second period, outshooting Montreal 13-1. Claude Giroux deposited the first goal over Halak's shoulder 5:41 into the second. Giroux skated wide on Josh Gorges before moving into the middle of the ice to make his move. At the 14:53 mark of the second, Chris Pronger made a tape-to-tape outlet pass to Ville Leino. Leino, in all alone, made no mistake; he deked out Halak in the Montreal crease and slid the puck by his right pad to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead.
Although the Flyers didn't generate much offense in the third, they didn't need to. While some 2-0 leads feel uncomfortable, this one didn't; the Flyers were in full control of the game and stifled Montreal's offense. Claude Giroux potted an empty netter for the Flyers' third and final goal. Leighton made 17 saves for the shutout, and is the first goalie in Flyers history to have three shutouts in a playoff series – a remarkable accomplishment.
Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere returned to the Flyers lineup for Game 4. In order for them to return, Andreas Nodl and Dan Carcillo were taken out of the lineup. While I expected Nodl to be benched, I was surprised to see that Carcillo was a healthy scratch. Lavy said in postgame that Carcillo would play more games for the Flyers this year. Carter skated for 13:51, with many short shifts early on. He took four shots on goal. Lappy time on ice was a modest 9:51. Blair Betts had a strong game, dumping the puck deep in the Montreal zone when called upon. Betts finished the game with a +2 mark. Chris Pronger recovered from his poor effort Thursday night; he looked like his old self and played over 30 minutes.
The Flyers come home Monday night for Game 5, when they could clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Finals. The Canadiens are 5-0 in elimination games this season, so the Flyers have their work cut out for them. Both of these teams play their best when their backs are against the wall, and that is where Montreal finds themselves. The Flyguys will need to maintain their focus, not turnover the puck, and feed off the loud Philly crowd to come out on top Monday.