Habs keep drawing blanks against Leighton

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Philadelphia up 2-0 after another shutout win over Montreal

"You don't score," Scott Gomez was saying, "you don't win." And if you don't score in 120 minutes, you don't win twice. The Montreal Canadiens have run into a white-hot goalie in Philadelphia's Michael Leighton.

Montreal's power play has short-circuited, going 0-for-8 in the Eastern Conference final. The Canadiens' penalty-kill has been less than fatal, surrendering four goals in 10 Flyers opportunities.

Philadelphia Flyers' goalie Michael Leighton makes a save as Montreal Canadiens' forward Brian Gionta leaps to avoid the shot during Game 2 of the NHL Eastern Conference final Tuesday in Philadelphia. Montreal's Glen Metropolit (15) looks on. Leighton mad

PHILADELPHIA -

"You don't score," Scott Gomez was saying, "you don't win." And if you don't score in 120 minutes, you don't win twice. The Montreal Canadiens have run into a white-hot goalie in Philadelphia's Michael Leighton.

Montreal's power play has short-circuited, going 0-for-8 in the Eastern Conference final. The Canadiens' penalty-kill has been less than fatal, surrendering four goals in 10 Flyers opportunities.

And the Habs return home for Game 3 trailing Philadelphia 2-0, with the Flyers' net just a rumour and their opponents proving they can capitalize on the least bit of undisciplined play by Montreal.

"We've got to find a way," said Gomez, who has been in the penalty box for both Flyers' winning goals. "We've played some good hockey. But they kept their home ice. They did their job. Now we have to do ours."

Yet again, the Canadiens face a steep uphill climb. Two Philadelphia power-play goals Tuesday night, and a third-period shot Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak would have stopped in the Slovakian house leagues, spell significant trouble.

For the second time this playoff season, the Habs trail an opponent by two games. But for the first time, they return home down 2-0 after the first two games on the road.

When up 2-0 in a best-of-seven series, the Flyers are 16-0 in their playoff history. They have beaten the Canadiens six straight times in the post-season, dating to 2008, and have scored 13 unanswered goals against Boston and Montreal.

Would it be too much to ask Flyers netminder Leighton, the former Canadiens practice goalie/benchwarmer, to allow a goal - even one - in return for the CH jersey he left Montreal with 25 months ago? Leighton has allowed only four goals on his last 128 shots.

Not since the 1952 Stanley Cup final have the Canadiens been blanked in two consecutive playoff road games. Detroit's Terry Sawchuk earned two 3-0 shutouts to close out that series.

And Leighton made a little history of his own Tuesday night, becoming the first Flyers goalie since Bernie Parent 35 years ago to earn back-to-back playoff shutouts.

"It's obviously an honour. A shutout to me means a little bit, but the win means a lot more," Leighton said. "We could have won 3-1 and I would have been just as happy."

Again Tuesday night, the Canadiens dominated the first period, outshooting their hosts 16-6. And again, the teams went to their dressing rooms with the Flyers ahead 1-0 on a power-play goal, this one by Daniel Briere.

"Michael saved our game tonight in the first period," Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette said, not the least bit happy with his team's opening 20 minutes. "We gave up way too many scoring chances. We weren't prepared physically or mentally and we got dominated.

"One guy stood on his head and we were able to chip one in on the power play on Danny's goal. But you don't want to roll those dice too many times."

And again Tuesday night, the Canadiens were warbling the tune they had going after Game 1: they need to make Leighton's life more difficult, to give him a harder time seeing pucks with more bodies in front of the net.

If the goalie was wholly comfortable in the series opener, he wasn't severely tested often Tuesday in a 30-save, first-star performance.

"We have to score more goals and I assume (Leighton) would not feel comfortable after a night of that," forward Michael Cammalleri said before the game.

More goals? At this point, the Canadiens might settle for a flurry of one.

The rally starts with a single win, of course, but a Flyers split in Montreal would give them two more games back home at the Wachovia Centre to close out the series.

At one point, the Canadiens are going to drop a pail into the comeback well and pull up an empty bucket.

"We're going through a little (scoring) funk and it's the wrong time," Gomez said. "But the challenge is ahead of us. We're glad to be going home.

"One has to go in off a leg, foot, head . . . whatever it takes to get the first one. We've got to get a little more dirty in front of the net. Get some traffic in front of (Leighton). We get an ugly one, and away we go."

The Flyers have outhit the Canadiens 54-41 through two games, but Montreal head coach Jacques Martin doesn't believe that Philadelphia's physical edge is carrying the day.

"I don't think that's the issue," martin said. "We've just got to find ways to probably get a better net presence.

"I thought that we made some progress in areas. We played much better in certain parts of the game. We spent more time in their zone tonight than the first game. Our level of competition was better. So we'll dissect the game and bring the necessary changes for Game 3."




Game 2 notebook

Philadelphia
The Canadiens made a surprise roster change for Tuesday's contest, bringing Sergei Kostitsyn back after 10 games and sitting out the unproductive Benoit Pouliot, who has yet to score in 15 playoff games. Kostitsyn joined a sparingly used line with Glen Metropolit and Travis Moen ... For the Flyers, Jeff Carter (broken toe) and Ian Laperriere (concussion) have resumed skating, but aren't ready to return yet ... Montreal outshot the Flyers 30-23 overall, and it was a second difficult game for Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak. The hero of Montreal's upset wins over Washington and Pittsburgh in the first two rounds struggled again after he was pulled for allowing four goals in 14 shots in Game 1. Halak now has a 7-2-1 career record in games after he was pulled. He bounced back with strong performances in the first two rounds after being pulled but couldn't do it this time ... The Flyers, who came back to beat Boston with four consecutive wins, won a sixth straight playoff game for the first time since they did it in 1995 against Buffalo and the New York Rangers. Philadelphia is 16-0 all-time when going up 2-0 in a series.

Organizations: Montreal Canadiens, Flyers, Slovakian house Wachovia Centre New York Rangers

Geographic location: Montreal, Philadelphia, Boston Detroit Washington Pittsburgh Buffalo

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Comments

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Recent comments

  • Jody
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    God i hope Philly wins tonight!!! To shut up all those habs fans. The best part of the series so far is the fans in Philly singing Ole! That's great stuff there. 9-0 goals is all lady luck there hockeyfan9087. I heard somewhere that Cindy Lauper is re-releasing True Colors for Halak.

  • Busy Bayman
    July 02, 2010 - 13:27

    Last nights game showed that Martin had come up with a plan to outplay Philly, with the exception of the netminder. A huge difference from game 1. Halak let in some weak goals no doubt. Like the Habs coaching staff said, beat Leighton once and then they'll do it often. They're just not getting the lucky bounces. I think if Montreal wins game 3 then they'll win the series. And please don't play Sergei anymore, Darche is way better.

  • hockeyfan9087
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    People have forgotton... It takes 4 wins to win a series not 2, Philly is getting some help from lady luck right now but they can't keep winning games on pure fluke luck... Habs in 6/7

  • B
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    Yup. A 9-0 goal ratio over two games is pure fluke luck. OK.

    Ole . . . Ole Ole Ole . . . Ole . . . Ole!

  • P
    July 02, 2010 - 13:17

    If Gomez would stop taking stupid penalties, maybe that would help.

  • hockeyfan9087
    July 02, 2010 - 13:10

    Philly got alot of luck on their side at the moment. Montreal is outplaying outchancing and simply put... a better team overall than the pathetic philly flyers... Like I said Montreal in 6/7

  • DB
    July 02, 2010 - 13:09

    Sounds like the typical excuses of a frog fan.

  • Jody
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    God i hope Philly wins tonight!!! To shut up all those habs fans. The best part of the series so far is the fans in Philly singing Ole! That's great stuff there. 9-0 goals is all lady luck there hockeyfan9087. I heard somewhere that Cindy Lauper is re-releasing True Colors for Halak.

  • Busy Bayman
    July 01, 2010 - 20:15

    Last nights game showed that Martin had come up with a plan to outplay Philly, with the exception of the netminder. A huge difference from game 1. Halak let in some weak goals no doubt. Like the Habs coaching staff said, beat Leighton once and then they'll do it often. They're just not getting the lucky bounces. I think if Montreal wins game 3 then they'll win the series. And please don't play Sergei anymore, Darche is way better.

  • hockeyfan9087
    July 01, 2010 - 20:07

    People have forgotton... It takes 4 wins to win a series not 2, Philly is getting some help from lady luck right now but they can't keep winning games on pure fluke luck... Habs in 6/7

  • B
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    Yup. A 9-0 goal ratio over two games is pure fluke luck. OK.

    Ole . . . Ole Ole Ole . . . Ole . . . Ole!

  • P
    July 01, 2010 - 19:58

    If Gomez would stop taking stupid penalties, maybe that would help.

  • hockeyfan9087
    July 01, 2010 - 19:46

    Philly got alot of luck on their side at the moment. Montreal is outplaying outchancing and simply put... a better team overall than the pathetic philly flyers... Like I said Montreal in 6/7

  • DB
    July 01, 2010 - 19:44

    Sounds like the typical excuses of a frog fan.