Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Canadiens/Flyers Game Two: Didn’t we see this Sunday?


Save for the Philadelphia Flyers being short three goals, Game Two of the Eastern Conference Final was essentially a carbon copy of Game One.

The Montreal Canadiens outshot they’re opponents Tuesday night 30-23, but couldn’t solve goaltender Michael Leighton in a 3-0 loss.

It was just the fifth time in Canadiens history that they have been shutout in back-to-back playoff games. The last time came in 1983.

As with Game One, the Canadiens got the first power play of the evening, but found it quickly negated by a Scott Gomez hooking call.

On the ensuing man advantage, the Flyers Daniel Briere cashed his ninth of the playoffs, backing up Hall Gill, then cutting right to beat Jaroslav Halak top-shelf.

Montreal gained a couple more power play chances in the period, but Leighton came up with some big saves, notably off the sticks of Andrei Kostitsyn and Michael Cammalleri.

But as good as the saves were, the Flyers defense gave their goalie a clean line of sight throughout the game to make them.

The Canadiens maintained strong possession throughout the period and held a 16-6 shot advantage, but were still down a goal after the first twenty minutes.

The next forty minutes were very lack-luster for either team.

The Canadiens just seemed unwilling to chase down a puck and create scoring opportunities. Any chances they had were straight into the Flyers defense and quickly turned back.

Simon Gagne scored the lone second period goal, again on the power play, when he snuck in from the side of the net to tap in a loose puck.

Frustration seemed to be the Canadiens motive in the third period, which forced more mental errors and aggravation. The end result of that was Ville Leino’s 3rd of playoffs at 10:24 on a weak shot out of the corner that seemed to mystify Halak.


“I thought that we competed good tonight,” Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said. “We played a much better game and our level of competition was better, but we still have to make some changes.”

Those changes could start with playing the more physical Ryan O’Byrne on the Canadiens blue line to thwart the Flyers from screening Halak.

Martin’s strategy to play doghoused Sergei Kostitsyn seemed counter productive. Kostitsyn logged just 4:56 of ice time and had no shots on goal.

Improvement is one thing, but when the primary result of scoring a goal is not yet accomplished, one has to question how “improved” they Canadiens played.

“I thought we did a lot better job, but he(Leighton) has stopped everything,” said Cammalleri. “When a goalie has back-to-back shutouts he’s doing something right.”

Special teams were another area of concern for the Canadiens. While the Flyers have four of their nine goals in the series with the man advantage, the Canadiens have been 0-for-4 in both contests.

“We did some good things, but they had two power play goals,” said Canadiens winger Brian Gionta. “We didn’t capitalize on our chances.”

The Flyers now hold a 2-0 series lead going to Montreal for Game Three on Thursday.

"We gotta find a way at home.” added Gomez. “We gotta find one and keep going at it, even if it’s an ugly one off someone’s ass.”

Leighton now has a shutout streak of 165:60 and also became the first to record back-to-back playoff shutouts for the Flyers since Bernie Parent.

“It’s not over yet,” said Leighton. “I’m happy the way things are going and I hope we keep winning. We’re looking forward to Game Three.”

1. Michael Leighton 2. Simon Gagne 3. Kimmo Timonen

Game photo: Getty Images/Jim McIsaac

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