Philly flying high, ousts Canadiens
PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Flyers have rekindled some of their old “Broad Street Bullies’’ championship days and are back in the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 13 years.
Mike Richards had a highlight-reel goal early, Arron Asham and Jeff Carter scored 84 seconds apart, and the Flyers beat the Montreal Canadiens, 4-2, last night to win the Eastern Conference finals in five games.
The Flyers, who needed a shootout win in the last game of the regular season to clinch a playoff spot, will play the Western Conference champion Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1 Saturday. The Flyers have not won the Stanley Cup since consecutive titles in 1974 and 1975.
Michael Leighton allowed a goal 59 seconds into the game, then shut down the Canadiens.
The Flyers took a 3-1 lead into the third period, leaving the final 20 minutes as one raucous coronation party.
The Flyers have shown an awesome ability to fight back on guts alone. Down, 3-0, in the conference semifinals vs. Boston and trailing, 3-0, in Game 7, the Flyers rallied to win in one of the sport’s all-time great comebacks.
“We kept going and didn’t quit. Down, 0-3, we didn’t quit all year, that has been our motto,’’ Richards said. “I don’t want to say destiny or anything, but we have a great team.’’
Richards scored a goal that will surely be shown over and over during the finals.
Playing shorthanded, and just trying to clear the puck, Claude Giroux fired the puck down the ice, sending Richards scrambling. Jaroslav Halak skated out of the net to try and stop the puck but Richards dived head first between Halak and defenseman Roman Hamrlik. The puck squirted away and Richards tapped it into an empty net to make it 1-1. Asham and Carter built the lead from there and gave Leighton all the room he needed.
The Canadiens got in as the eighth seed and then knocked off Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington after trailing, 3-1, in the series. Montreal trailed Pittsburgh, 3-2, before advancing past the defending Stanley Cup champions in the second round.
“Later in the summer you might look back and say, ‘Hey we did all right,’ but right now it’s a tough pill to swallow,’’ Canadiens defenseman Hal Gill said.