May 19, 2010

1. Michael Leighton, Flyers

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was unequivocal in his post-game assessment. "Michael Leighton saved our game tonight in the first period," he said. "We gave up too many scoring chances. We weren't prepared physically or mentally. But one guy stood on his head." He's right -- Leighton was brilliant in that scrambly opening frame, stopping 16 shots to hold the fort and give his teammates time to focus their effort. The result: A 3-0 win over the Habs and a two games to none lead in the ECF. Leighton now has stopped all 58 shots he's faced in the series and hasn't been scored on in 165:50. The last time a Flyers goalie pitched consecutive shutouts in the playoffs? Bernie Parent was between the pipes and Kate Smith was still singing God Bless America at the Spectrum

2. Dave Bolland, Blackhawks

Tough to overlook the flashy performances that powered Chicago's 4-2 victory, including those offered up by Jonathan Toews (his seventh goal of playoffs and an assist), Duncan Keith (a great reminder of why he's the Norris favorite) and Antti Niemi (outplaying Evgeni Nabokov again). Still, Bolland earns the nod for his less obvious, but highly effective defensive efforts to limit the impact of Joe Thornton. Jumbo Joe brought his A game, but Bolland kept pace, frustrating the Sharks star to the point of drawing a penalty off a third period face-off and goading him into a couple of skirmishes that only served to sap his energy. Honorary mention to Joel Quenneville here for managing to consistently get Bolland on the ice against Thornton, despite not having the benefit of last change.

3. Simon Gagne, Flyers

Philly's smoking gun netted another goal tonight, giving him six in six games since returning from a broken foot suffered while blocking a shot in the first round against the Devils. It might not have been one for the highlight reel -- Gagne needed a couple of whacks at a rebound of a Ville Leino bid before burying it behind Jaroslav Halak -- but it was emblematic of the way Philly has dominated this series. While the Flyers are winning battles for position and earning those second and third chances in Halak's crease, the Habs haven't been able to set up camp in front of Leighton. Unless they get of bit of Gagne's game in them, they're done.

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