Flyers pounce in East finals opener
PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Flyers are about to find out what it's like to play from in front.
It's been a while since the NHL's comeback kids have been the ones being chased.
Fresh off a stirring Game 7 win over the Boston Bruins that capped a rally from three games down, the Flyers scored early against Jaroslav Halak and the Montreal Canadiens and rolled to a 6-0 win in the opener of the Eastern Conference finals last night.
Michael Leighton was strong in a slow-starting first period for the Flyers and finished with 28 saves in his first NHL playoff shutout. James van Riemsdyk, Danny Briere and Simon Gagne scored in a span of 9:23 in the second to turn it into a rout.
"It makes it a little bit easier when we score that many," Leighton said. "In the second period, we played really well. We got a few goals and that kind of calmed me down and I think it calmed the team down."
There would be no comeback necessary this time for the surging Flyers, who rebounded from a 3-0 series hole against the Bruins and a 3-0 deficit in Game 7 in Boston on Friday night.
Game 2 of this series, the NHL's first final four matchup between a No. 7 and No. 8 seed, will be tomorrow night in Philadelphia.
'HAWKS BEAT SHARKS IN GAME 1, 2-1
Dustin Byfuglien scored the tiebreaking goal with 6:45 remaining in regulation, Antti Niemi made 44 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks extended their road dominance in the playoffs by beating the San Jose Sharks in the opener of the Western Conference final yesterday.
Patrick Shark also scored for the Blackhawks, who improved to 6-1 on the road this postseason and snapped a streak of four straight losses in series openers.
"It's something we really wanted to establish this series," Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "We wanted to come out hard and get the first win of the series and try to play from ahead for a change."
Rookie Jason Demers scored the lone goal for San Jose, which fell to 0-4 at home all-time in two trips to the conference final.
Game 2 will be played tomorrow night in San Jose.