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Leighton Personifies Flyers' Rally by Hanging Tough

Saturday, 05.15.2010 / 10:46 AM ET / News
By Brian Compton  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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Leighton Personifies Flyers\' Rally by Hanging Tough
(Boston, MA) - Less than 15 minutes into Game 7 of this Eastern Conference Semifinal on Friday night, one had the right to at least wonder if Michael Leighton would even start the second period.
 
Much like his teammates, the Philadelphia Flyers goaltender got off to a rocky start as three pucks got past him in the first 14:10. But Leighton -- who replaced the injured Brian Boucher in the midst of Game 5 on Monday -- settled down and stopped all 11 shots he faced over the final two periods, allowing his team to rally for a remarkable 4-3 win against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.
 
After Milan Lucic scored his second goal of the night to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead at 14:10 of the opening period, Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette called his lone timeout. He used a portion of it to help put his goalie at ease.
Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michael Leighton, right, leaps into the arms of teammates Mike Richards, center, and Kimmo Timonen (44), of Finland, after defeating he Boston Bruins 4-3 in Game 7 of a second-round NHL playoff hockey series in Boston, Friday, May 14, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

"Laviolette came up to me and said, 'Just stick with it. You're fine. We're going to score some goals … just shut the door the rest of the game and we'll win this,'" Leighton said. "Sure enough, that's what happened. I felt comfortable even when we were down 3-0. I didn't feel I was playing bad."
 
James van Riemsdyk started the rally with a huge goal at 17:12 of the first before Scott Hartnell made it 3-2 just 2:49 into the second. Philadelphia held Boston to just six shots on goal in the middle 20 minutes, which certainly helped Leighton relax. Danny Briere tied the game before the end of the period on a wraparound.
 
"I think they bailed me out the whole game," Leighton said of his teammates. "Tonight was not a goaltender's game. We played good offense, they played good offense. Our defense did a great job, too. There were not many shots in the second or in the third. It was a team game."
 
Leighton faced only five shots in the third period and received some help from the goal post when Lucic was denied a hat trick about midway through. Simon Gagne then sealed the historic victory when he beat Tuukka Rask on the power play at 12:52.
 
"I don't even know who scored that goal," Leighton said. "Obviously, our power play has been pretty solid. Anytime you're on the power play that late in the game, it's big."
 
Gagne's goal wasn't just big. It was one that allowed the Flyers to become the first team in 35 years to rally to win a best-of-seven series after losing the first three games. It marked only the third time in NHL history that it's ever been done.
 
"It's unbelievable," Leighton said. "Who would have thought when we were down 3-0 to battle back? The odds were against us the whole time. Obviously, being down in the first period 3-0 was a big kick to the head. We stuck with it. We just did a great job.
 
"We knew we were right there and we knew we could play with them. We just took it one game at a time. We're a good team. To be able to battle back, it's a great feeling. It makes it even more special that we were down 3-0 and we battled back and won."

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

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2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 82 22 59 1 81
C. Giroux 81 25 48 -3 73
M. Streit 81 9 43 -8 52
W. Simmonds 75 28 22 -5 50
B. Schenn 82 18 29 -5 47
S. Couturier 82 15 22 4 37
M. Del Zotto 64 10 22 -5 32
M. Read 80 8 22 -4 30
M. Raffl 67 21 7 6 28
V. Lecavalier 57 8 12 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 18 18 11 .928 2.25
R. Emery 10 11 7 .894 3.06
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