Leighton Steps In Game 5 And Flyers Stay Alive

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Philadelphia goalie Michael Leighton can't block a goal as Boston's Michael Ryder looks on in the first period of the game on Thursday in Philadelphia. (AP)
Philadelphia goalie Michael Leighton can't block a goal as Boston's Michael Ryder looks on in the first period of the game on Thursday in Philadelphia. (AP)

For the Philadelphia Flyers to stay alive in the Eastern Conference semifinals, they'll need Michael Leighton to get over his jitters.

A former starter who hadn't played in two months since injuring his ankle, Leighton came off the bench when Brian Boucher was hurt to finish the 4-0 shutout of the Boston Bruins and avoid elimination in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals.

It was just the second combined playoff shutout in NHL history, according to the Elias Stats Bureau.

"I was a little bit nervous at the start," Leighton said. "I didn't want to lose the confidence of the team. We scored some goals in the second and it took some pressure off."

Simon Gagne, who scored in overtime to win Game 4 on Friday, had two goals, and Boucher made nine saves before what appeared to be a left knee injury when two players fell on him during a scramble for a loose puck in the crease.

Leighton, who had not played since March 16 and had never appeared in a playoff game, stopped 14 shots the rest of the way.

Game 6 is in Philadelphia on Wednesday night. If they win, it's back to Boston for a decisive Game 7 on Friday night.

"We are going back home now feeling confident," said Flyers forward Ville Leino, who had a goal and an assist. "We have two wins and we have two games left. It is easier to believe now than when we were down 3-0."


The 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders are the only NHL teams to come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven playoff series.

"I don't know what the percentages are, but everybody was counting us out," forward Scott Hartnell said. "We believe in ourselves. We believe in our system. We've just got to keep it going."

Tuukka Rask stopped 27 shots for Boston, which had led the series 3-0 but missed a second chance to clinch the series and advance to the conference finals for the first time since 1992.

"They came out and slapped us in the face. Now we have to realize it's a series," forward Mark Recchi said. "We weren't on top of our game. We didn't play well. When you're not playing well, it doesn't matter who was in the net or who you're playing."

Leino scored off a rebound in front just 6:41 in to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. It was still close when Boucher went down underneath teammate Ryan Parent and Bruins forward Miroslav Satan with 15:25 left in the second period.

The puck was cleared away, but Boucher remained on the ice; a referee whistled the play dead and quickly waved to the Flyers bench.

After the team's medical staff came out, Leighton stepped onto the ice in a ballcap and began stretching. Boucher eventually skated off with assistance, favoring his left knee as the Boston crowd gave him polite applause.

The team didn't identify the injury.

Boston put a few quick shots on Leighton to test him - but nothing too challenging - and the Flyers took a 2-0 lead when Hartnell batted Danny Briere's shot out of the air and into the net with 8:44 left in the second. Gagne one-timed a centering pass from Mike Richards into the net on a power play to make it 3-0 with 2:07 left in the second.

The Boston crowd booed the Bruins off the ice.

And in the third period, it wasn't much better.

Gagne broke free when Dennis Wideman's stick broke at the point and the puck trickled into the neutral zone. Wideman could do little but try to get in Gagne's way, but the Flyers forward easily went around him and in on Rask to make it 4-0 with 13:12 to play.

This program aired on May 11, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.