VOORHEES, N.J. — A day later, the Flyers said they had put their historic comeback behind them.
"We had our celebrations in the locker room," goalie Michael Leighton said Saturday of the Game 7 win over the Bruins that capped a comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
"On the plane … it was kind of quiet, but you knew everybody was happy. I think everyone was just sitting back in their seat reading a book or listening to music or looking up at the ceiling thinking, 'What did we just do?' That was amazing."
The Flyers got into the playoffs with a shootout win over the Rangers on the last day of the regular season. Now only the eighth-seeded Canadiens stand between them and their first Stanley Cup final since 1997.
"It's probably the hottest team right now and probably the most dangerous team left in the playoffs," Montreal forward Scott Gomez said of the Flyers. "You kind of wish they got a little break there."
The East final begins today. If Philadelphia gets caught snoozing, it could be left on the wayside by Montreal the way Cup contenders Washington and Pittsburgh were in the first two rounds. Montreal, which clinched a playoff berth one day before the Flyers, has won an NHL-high 24 Cups but is in the conference final for the first time since 1993.
"We're proud of what we did (in coming back)," Flyers forward Simon Gagne said. "But at the same time … we have to focus on the Montreal Canadiens."
Stamkos feels better
Lightning star Steven Stamkos, who sustained a mild concussion Wednesday at the world championship in Germany, said he felt good after skating and believed he could play for Canada today. But coach Craig MacTavish said he likely would be cautious and sit Stamkos.
"I have no headache," said Stamkos, hurt on an elbow to the jaw by Switzerland's Timo Helbling. "So it's the best day so far (since the injury)."
More worlds: The Rangers' Matt Gilroy had a hat trick to lead the United States past Kazakhstan in the relegation round in Germany. The Americans must finish among the top two in the four-team group to ensure a spot in next year's worlds. Also, Russia (3-2 over Germany behind Alex Ovechkin's fourth goal in four games) and Switzerland (3-2 over the Czech Republic) moved to 3-0 in the second round.
Times staff writer Damian Cristodero contributed to this report.
Best vs. best
In the East final, it's the bottom two seeds. In the West, it's 1 vs. 2, the sixth time for that matchup in the league since the current playoff format began in 1993-94:
1995-96: Red Wings (1) vs. Avs (2), Avs won 4-2
1998-99: Stars (1) vs. Avs (2), Stars won 4-3
2001-02: Red Wings (1) vs. Avs (2), Wings won 4-3
2002-03: Senators (1) vs. Devils (2), Devils won 4-3
2006-07: Red Wings (1) vs. Ducks (2), Ducks won 4-2
Eastern Conference final
no. 7 Flyers vs. no. 8 Canadiens
Records: Flyers — 41-35-6, third in the Atlantic, seventh in the East. Canadiens — 39-33-10, fourth in the Northeast, eighth in the East.
How they got here: Flyers — Beat No. 2 Devils 4-1 and No. 6 Bruins 4-3. Canadiens — Beat No. 1 Capitals 4-3 and No. 4 Penguins 4-3.
Season series: 2-2
Scouting the Flyers: Philadelphia became the third NHL team to rebound from a 3-0 series deficit to win, rallying from a 3-0 deficit in Game 7 to beat the Bruins 4-3. … Michael Leighton reclaimed the starting goaltending job he lost due to injury, replacing injured Brian Boucher in Game 5 against Boston. He stopped 66 of 70 shots in Games 5-7. … Simon Gagne had two screws placed in a toe to fix an injury sustained in the first round. Then he had four goals and five points after returning in Game 4 against Boston, scoring the winning goals in Games 4 (overtime) and 7.
Scouting the Canadiens: Jaroslav Halak had a 2.38 goals-against average and .927 save percentage against the Penguins. Against the Capitals, it was 2.45 and .939, and he stopped 131 of his final 134 shots. … Michael Cammalleri leads the league with 12 postseason goals, including seven against Pittsburgh to tie a franchise record.
Tonight: at Philadelphia, 7, Versus
Tuesday: at Philadelphia, 7, Versus
Thursday: at Montreal, 7,
May 22: at Montreal, 3, Ch. 8
May 24: at Philadelphia, 7, Versus *
May 26: at Montreal, 7, Versus *
May 28: at Philadelphia, 7, Versus *
* If necessary
Western Conference final
no. 1 Sharks vs. no. 2 Blackhawks
Records: Sharks — 51-20-11, first in the Pacific, first in the West. Blackhawks — 52-22-8, first in the Central, second in the West.
How they got here: Sharks — Beat No. 8 Avalanche 4-2 and No. 5 Red Wings 4-1. Blackhawks — Beat No. 7 Predators 4-2 and No. 3 Canucks 4-2.
Season series: Blackhawks 3-1 (two wins in overtime).
Scouting the Sharks: Joe Pavelski has team highs of nine goals and 15 points. … Joe Thornton, who entered this season with 53 points (12 goals, 41 assists) in 76 playoff games, has 11 (three goals, eight assists) in 11 this season. That includes three goals and five assists against the Red Wings. … Evgeni Nabokov allowed 14 goals in the four regular-season games against Chicago.
Scouting the Blackhawks: Jonathan Toews has a nine-game point streak, posting six goals and 13 assists during the stretch, and has a league-high 20 points in the playoffs. … Rookie starting goalie Antti Niemi has never faced the Sharks. (Now-backup Cristobal Huet started the regular-season games.) … Chicago is 5-1 on the road in playoffs, outscoring the opposition 26-14.
Today: at San Jose, 3, Ch. 8
Tuesday: at San Jose, 10,
Friday: at Chicago, 8, Versus
May 23: at Chicago, 3, Ch. 8
May 25: at San Jose, 9, Versus *
May 27: at Chicago, 8, Versus *
May 29: at San Jose, 8, Versus *
* If necessary