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Flyers' backup wins battle of goalies

The stick doesn’t count: San Jose’s Joe Pavelski can’t get the puck past Antti Niemi during the third. Niemi, a rookie, made 44 saves in Chicago’s 2-1 win in Game 1 of the West final.

Associated Press

The stick doesn’t count: San Jose’s Joe Pavelski can’t get the puck past Antti Niemi during the third. Niemi, a rookie, made 44 saves in Chicago’s 2-1 win in Game 1 of the West final.

PHILADELPHIA — James van Riemsdyk, Danny Briere and Simon Gagne scored in a span of 9:23 in the second against playoff star Jaroslav Halak as the Flyers routed the Canadiens 6-0 Sunday in Game 1 of the East final.

Halak, a huge factor in eighth-seeded Montreal's upsets of Washington and Pittsburgh, was outplayed by Michael Leighton.

Leighton, who made 27 saves for his first postseason shutout, has allowed only four goals on 98 shots in four games since taking over for Brian Boucher, who is likely out for the season with a sprained left knee. Since allowing three goals in the first period of Game 7 against Boston, Leighton has not allowed one in 105:50.

Not bad for a guy who sat out March 16-May 10 with a sprained left ankle.

"It makes it a little bit easier when we score that many goals," Leighton said. "In the second period, we played really well. And that kind of calmed me down, and I think it calmed the team down."

Meanwhile, Halak entered with a .933 save percentage and 2.42 goals-against average. But after Gagne, who has five goals and six points in five games since returning from toe surgery, beat him to make it 4-0, he was pulled for Carey Price.

Montreal endured chants of "USA! USA!" and mocking recitals of the familiar Ole, Ole, Ole song that often resonates during home games.

"I don't think we had the compete level we needed," Canadiens wing Michael Cammalleri said. "This team cares. The guys want to do the right things, but we weren't sharp as we need to be on a lot of levels. But it's only Game 1. We need to regroup."

Flyers 1 3 2 6
Canadiens 0 0 0 0
Flyers lead series 1-0

First Period1, Philadelphia, Coburn 1 (Hartnell, Leino), 3:55 (pp). PenaltiesPronger, Phi (cross-checking), 1:13; Gomez, Mon (roughing), 2:04.

Second Period2, Philadelphia, van Riemsdyk 2 (Giroux), :30. 3, Philadelphia, Briere 8 (M.Carle), 4:23. 4, Philadelphia, Gagne 5 (Coburn, Leino), 9:53 (pp). PenaltiesLapierre, Mon (roughing), 2:22; Pronger, Phi (interference), 5:36; A.Kostitsyn, Mon (boarding), 7:57; Carcillo, Phi (roughing), 12:41; Pyatt, Mon (goaltender interference), 19:10.

Third Period5, Philadelphia, Hartnell 3 (Briere, M.Carle), 12:13. 6, Philadelphia, Giroux 6 (Asham, van Riemsdyk), 13:26. PenaltiesCoburn, Phi (interference), 8:17; Gomez, Mon (slashing), 9:55; Spacek, Mon (interference), 14:01. Shots on GoalMontreal 13-10-5—28. Philadelphia 6-10-9—25. Power-play opportunitiesMontreal 0 of 4; Philadelphia 2 of 6. GoaliesMontreal, Halak 8-6-0 (14 shots-10 saves), Price (9:53 second, 11-9). Philadelphia, Leighton 3-0-0 (28-28). A19,927 (19,537).

Hot goalie, late goal lift Chicago in opener

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Antti Niemi might be putting to rest those questions about if he is the Blackhawks' weak link.

The rookie made 44 saves and Dustin Byfuglien scored the winner with 6:45 left as Chicago beat San Jose 2-1 in Game 1 of the West final.

"He's been good for us all year," wing Kris Versteeg said of Niemi. "Everyone seemed to be doubting him except us. We're confident in him."

Chicago had lost its past four series openers, including to the Predators and Canucks at home during these playoffs.

"We wanted … to play from ahead for a change," said defenseman Brent Seabrook, whose team is 6-1 on the road this postseason.

San Jose now is 0-4 at home in West finals, including 0-3 against Calgary in 2003-04.

Sunday, its top line of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley was on the ice for both Chicago goals. Thornton is a minus-8 in this postseason and lost the defensive zone faceoff that preceded the winning goal. But coach Todd McLellan said he had no regrets.

"Joe has been put in that situation all year," McLellan said. "We played our big players against the other team's top lines. They've been very successful. So I feel very comfortable with them on the ice in that situation."

Blackhawks 0 1 1 2
Sharks 1 0 0 1
Blackhawks lead series 1-0
Blackhawks 0 1 1 2
Sharks 1 0 0 1
Blackhawks lead series 1-0

First Period1, San Jose, Demers 1 (Marleau, D.Boyle), 11:19 (pp). PenaltiesMadden, Chi (holding), 2:50; Byfuglien, Chi (interference), 10:36; Sharp, Chi (high-sticking), 15:47.

Second Period2, Chicago, Sharp 6 (Keith, Brouwer), 7:44. PenaltiesSeabrook, Chi (holding), 14:01.

Third Period3, Chicago, Byfuglien 5 (Kane, Toews), 13:15. PenaltiesVersteeg, Chi (tripping), 19:04. Shots on GoalChicago 8-14-18—40. San Jose 13-18-14—45. Power-play opportunitiesChicago 0 of 0; San Jose 1 of 5. GoaliesChicago, Niemi 9-4-0 (45 shots-44 saves). San Jose, Nabokov 8-4-0 (40-38). A17,562 (17,496).

Capitals: The Washington Post reported center Nicklas Backstrom has agreed to a long-term extension worth between $6 million and $7 million per season. The Capitals called a news conference for today. This season, Backstrom, a restricted free agent, set career highs with 33 goals, 68 assists (third in the league) and 101 points (fourth).

World championships: Two goals by Jonas Andersson lifted Sweden past Canada 3-1 and into the quarterfinals in Germany. The Lightning's Steven Stamkos, recovering from a concussion, did not play for Canada. Also, Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk had a hat trick to lead Russia past Denmark 6-1 and into the quarterfinals. And Ottawa's Nick Foligno had two goals and the Lightning's Mike Lundin an assist as the United States beat France 4-0 in the relegation round. The Americans need only to tie Italy on Tuesday to clinch a spot in next year's event.

Flyers' backup wins battle of goalies 05/17/10 [Last modified: Monday, May 17, 2010 12:29am]
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