The Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks have taken a one game to none in their Conference Final series…the Hawks winning a close, hard-fought battle of the goalies, while Philly flat-out B-slapped the Habs.
After spotting the Boston Bruins a 3-0 lead in the first period of Friday night’s game-seven, the Flyers have scored 10 straight goals. Four came against the Bruins to complete their historic come-from-behind series win, and the all six Sunday night as they shut out the Montreal Canadiens to open the series.
Impressively enough, all six of the goals scored came off the sticks of six different Flyer skaters. Braydon Coburn… remember him?… James van Riemsdyk, Danny Briere, Simon Gagne, Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux each netted one in the 6-0 beat down of the Canadiens.
Jaroslav Halak was chased halfway through the second period after allowing 4 goals on 14 Flyers’ shots. Flyers goalie Michael Leighton stopped all 28 he faced and he has turned aside 94 of the 98 shots taken against him since coming on to relieve the injured Brain Boucher in game five of the Bruins series, (.959 SV%).
As bad as this was for the Habs, I wouldn’t count this team out. They were outscored 17-9 in games two, three and four to fall behind 3 games to 1 against Washington in the opening round, then stormed back to win three consecutive to upset the President’s Trophy Winning Caps. They trailed 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 in their series against the defending cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins…but won games six and seven.
That being said…Philly has looked more like a top-seed then a seven-seed this past weekend.
Earlier in the day the Chicago Blackhawks got by the Sharks out in San Jose 2-1 behind Antti Niemi’s 44-save gem.
“He’s been good for us all year”, Blackhawk’s forward Kris Versteeg said of his Goalie. “Everyone seemed to be doubting him except us. We’re confident in him”.
However, Versteeg admitted that the skaters in front of Niemi have to step up their defensive play by adding, “We have to give him a lot more help than we did tonight”.
After Jason Demers’ power play goal gave the home team an early lead in the first period, Patrick Sharp tied the score in the second and then Dustin Byfuglien netted the game-winner at the 13:15 mark of the third.
Although there were only 3 goals scored in the game there were a total of 85 shots taken. Sharks goaltender Evgeni Nabokov stopped 38 of 40 while Niemi allowed just one on 45 San Jose shots. Niemi is now 9-4 during the playoffs with a .918 SV% and 2.44 GAA.
Jonathan Toews had an assist in the win and his 21 overall points leads all skaters so far in the post-season, as do his 15 assists.
Both series will resume Tuesday night.