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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 20, 2010

Goalie Leighton has Flyers soaring in East


Associated Press

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Philadelphia goalie Michael Leighton, left, and Claude Giroux celebrate after the Flyers beat Montreal, 3-0, Tuesday for a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals. Leighton has stopped all 58 shots taken by the Canadiens.

MATT SLOCUM | Associated Press

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MONTREAL The NHL's goalie of the moment, and maybe the player most responsible for the Philadelphia Flyers ' unexpected run toward a Stanley Cup, arrived in Montreal with one simple wish for his 29th birthday.

"Just some rest," Michael Leighton said yesterday with a big laugh.

OK, but not much.

As busy as Leighton has been in registering consecutive shutouts by stopping all 58 shots Montreal has fired at him in the first two games of the Eastern Conference final, the Canadiens are vowing to make it even tougher on him.

A day after a 3-0 loss at Philadelphia, Canadiens coach Jacques Martin spent much of a 45-minute meeting attempting to erase 120 minutes of futility by stressing to his players the importance of getting more traffic in front of Leighton as the best-of-seven series shifts to Montreal for Game 3 tonight.

Defenseman Josh Gorges is buying in because at this point, scoring a goal just one has become the Canadiens' primary objective, no matter how it comes.

"Even if it's one of those ugly ones, off someone's behind or deflecting in off of one of their guys, we'll take it," Gorges said. "First of all, I think that would give us a boost, a little confidence to know that he's not invincible."

The Canadiens have been resilient this postseason. Seeded eighth, they've already rallied from series deficits to knock off both top-seeded Washington and defending champion Pittsburgh in seven games each.

The seventh-seeded Flyers pulled off maybe the greatest comeback in NHL history just to get here, coming from three games down against Boston and three goals down in Game 7 to beat the Bruins. And they're doing it with a journeyman goalie.

Claimed by the Flyers off of waivers in December, Leighton has grabbed the spotlight since taking over the starting job after Brian Boucher hurt his knee in Game 5 against Boston.

Leighton has now won four straight, and has been invincible this series.

BLACKHAWKS HOME

The Blackhawks have enjoyed living out of a suitcase. What a road trip they had, finishing off Vancouver in the second round and then beating San Jose twice on the Sharks' home ice for a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Can they duplicate their stellar play at home, where they are just 3-3 in the postseason, compared to 7-1 on the road? Game 3 is tomorrow night at the United Center.

"There's a lot of expectations from family and friends, people want to be a part of this whole thing. When you're on the road, it's just you and the guys. In that way, it's a little bit easier," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said yesterday, comparing home and away.

PLAYOFF GLANCE

All times Hawai'i

CONFERENCE FINALS

Sunday, May 16

Chicago 2, San Jose 1

Philadelphia 6, Montreal 0

Tuesday

Philadelphia 3, Montreal 0

Philadelphia leads series 2-0

Chicago 4, San Jose 2

Chicago leads series 2-0

Today

Philadelphia at Montreal, 1 p.m.

Tomorrow

San Jose at Chicago, 2 p.m.

Saturday, May 22

Philadelphia at Montreal, 9 a.m.

Sunday, May 23

San Jose at Chicago, 9 a.m.

Monday, May 24

x-Montreal at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

Tuesday, May 25

x-Chicago at San Jose, 3 p.m.

Wednesday, May 26

x-Philadelphia at Montreal, 1 p.m.

Thursday, May 27

x-San Jose at Chicago, 2 p.m.

Friday, May 28

x-Montreal at Philadelphia, 1 p.m.

Saturday, May 29

x-Chicago at San Jose, 2 p.m.

x-if necessary