After an up-tempo first period, the game slowed down considerably. Normally, that style of game would favor the Canadiens. Not on this day, and not against Philadelphia. The Flyers sucked the air out of an electric Bell Centre with a dominant second period, and went on to win 3-0 in Game 4. Philly now possesses a commanding 3-1 series lead over the 8th-seeded Habs.
Defense ruled the day for both clubs, as neither team could create many prime scoring chances. The difference between the two, though, was Chris Pronger. He had an un-Pronger-like Game 3, but rebounded in a big way today.
Pronger was terrific in his own end, taking away shooting/passing lanes from the Habs. He also had a great outlet pass to set up Ville Leino’s breakaway goal. This was the Pronger we’re used to seeing as the 6’6” behemoth was a difference-maker (along with the rest of his fellow defensemen).
The scoring all started when Claude Giroux sped past a wobbly Josh Gorges (equipment problem) and roofed the puck past Jaroslav Halak. Giroux also sealed the victory with a great effort on his empty net goal. He now has 18 points this postseason, just one shy of team leaders Danny Briere and Mike Richards.
Michael Leighton was also stellar in this one, stopping 17 shots that came his way. It was his third shutout in this series.
What Montreal brought to the table for 60 minutes on Thursday was only used for 20 today. Though they buzzed in the offensive zone for much of the first, they couldn’t crack Michael Leighton in the first… then never recovered from Giroux’s second period goal. Halak wasn’t as confident in net as he has been this postseason, while the offense ran into the buzzsaw that was Philly’s blueline.
Someone asked me today why I thought the Flyers would win, and not Montreal, after Thursday’s result. It was quite simple. The Habs couldn’t be better after the Game 3 win, but the Flyers could have been much better… and they were. Pronger and company played a great game on the road, and the Habs didn’t have a response.
As the series shifts back to Philadelphia for Game 5 on Monday, you can say Montreal will be in their ‘comfort zone’. They have battled back in each of the first two rounds, putting together a 5-0 record when facing elimination. The Flyers know this as much as anyone, and will surely feed off their crowd to try to punch their ticket to the finals.
This series is not over yet, but the Flyers have inserted a couple nails in the Canadiens’ coffin with today’s performance.
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