-- The Montreal Canadiens
once again reigned upon Philadelphia Flyers
goalie Michael Leighton
with yet another first-period barrage in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final at Bell Centre.
Only this time, unlike the previous two encounters in Philadelphia, the Canadiens got the best of the journeyman-turned-star goalie. Not only did they end that remarkable shutout streak of his at 172:55, but they popped in a pair of first-period goals en route to a 5-1 victory.
The 21,273 in attendance collectively exhaled when their hero in these playoffs, Michael Cammalleri
, scored his 13th postseason goal at 7:05 of the first off a wrist shot just outside the left post -- the first Canadiens goal against the Flyers in this series. Tom Pyatt
would make it 2-0 at 16:52 when he jammed home his second of the playoffs to Leighton's right. It was one of 17 first-period shots on Leighton.
The setback marked Leighton's first career playoff loss -- he's now 4-1. The sixth-season goalie, who sports a 2.33 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in the postseason since taking over for Brian Boucher
in the second period of Game 5 against the Boston Bruins
in the conference semifinals, finished with a series-high 33 saves on Thursday.
Leighton, who has stopped 91 of 96 shots in this series, spoke to the media after the game.
Mike, what happened (Thursday night)?
We knew they were going to come out hard and obviously we didn't respond to it. We didn't play a good game tonight and played the way they wanted to play. I felt OK. I'm not going to dwell on them scoring that many goals. We know we have to play better defensively and offensively. We didn't think we were going to win this series, 4-0, so we have to regroup. They're back in the series and the next one is going to be big for us.
Is your response as a team in Game 4 going to be huge?
Definitely. They obviously play better in this building and we have to respect that. We knew that coming in here, and we just didn't do anything about it. We know they got a couple good bounces on the first two goals (by Cammalleri and Pyatt) and then kind of shut it down, but we'll regroup and talk about the next one (on Friday).
Did the Montreal crowd bother you at all? They kept chanting your name throughout the game.
They were doing it to me in Boston in Game 7 too. It's not surprising and I knew it was coming and it doesn't bother me. They were chanting after I made a save -- maybe they liked the save [smiling].
Was the team just hoping to get out of that first period scoreless?
We knew they were going to come out hard and they scored two quick goals on us and took the wind out of our sails. We know we have to play better and be more prepared for the next game.
Why do you think there were so many turnovers made by some players that normally aren't responsible for giveaways?
We gave up a lot of stuff we don't normally give up. To be honest with you, we haven't played a game like that in a long time. We all know that, but we're confident we're going to be better next game.
Did Montreal do anything different in front of you (in Game 3)?
No. They were putting pucks on net and getting traffic in front. That's what they wanted to do and that's what they did.
Is there any consolation knowing that, really, none of the five goals were really your fault? There were a lot of deflections and screens.
They could have scored 10 on me but either way, we lost. We have to put it behind us and we have another game in a couple days we have to look forward to.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale