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OT wins boosts confidence of Leighton and Flyers

by Mike G. Morreale

PHILADELPHIA  -- It was the type of overtime sequence that could have deflated any average team. The Philadelphia Flyers, however, are proving they are no ordinary Joes.

Just 57 seconds after Simon Gagne's tip from the slot hit the right post and straddled the goal line before being tucked away by goalie Antti Niemi, there was Claude Giroux to make certain the Flyers would not be denied in a 4-3 overtime victory.

Giroux's ninth of the playoffs 5:59 into OT of Game 3 not only snapped Chicago's seven-game winning streak, but pared their series deficit to 2-1. Game 4 is Friday at 8 p.m. ET (Versus, CBC, RDS).

The win was a big one for goalie Michael Leighton, who notched his first of the Stanley Cup Final. Leighton stopped nine shots in the first period and 10 in the second on the way to a 24-save performance. He made just three saves in the third -- yielding a breakaway goal by Patrick Kane at 2:50. But Leighton made a pair of saves on Duncan Keith with 2:16 remaining and 27 seconds left to keep the game even.

Leighton, who improved to 7-2 with a 2.06 goals-against average and .926 save percentage in 11 playoff appearances, spoke with the media after the game.

Q: How much of a factor was it playing at home?

Leighton: Obviously playing at home is a big factor for us. We play well here and kind of feed off the crowd, and that's what we kind of did (Wednesday).

Q: Danny Briere said that when you came back to tie it 3-3, that there was a sense you were going to win this game?

Leighton:  When we scored I was kind of like, "OK, good." I wasn't jumping around because I had confidence in our team and obviously I didn't get a good look at the one that hit the post but I had that confidence we were going to win. I had a good feeling.

Q: What goes through your mind 200 feet away when you see the overtime winner? How do you refocus after that?

Leighton:  Like I said, from my end, it looked like it was in and (I saw) the replay on the scoreboard and looked over at our bench and saw our coach shaking his head so kind of knew it wasn't a goal. But I had confidence in our team, and we did a great job.

Q: How relieved are you to finally break through and get a win in this series?

Leighton:  It's a huge win for us. If we go down 3-0 going into Game 4 we're definitely in trouble. So we're back in it now but we can't be satisfied. We have a long ways to go and we're just going to look forward to the next game now.

Q: Winning a game like this in overtime; can you carry that into the next game?

Leighton:  Oh yeah. Momentum goes a long way. They kind of had momentum in their home rink, and we got it now so we're happy with the way things went. We're obviously happy with the win, but we still have lots of work to do still.

Q: What was the mood in the locker room after the third period?

Leighton:  It was kind of quiet because guys were just staying focused. We knew (the third period) was a huge period for us. If we lose that period we're down 3-0 so we wanted to get the next goal and, sure enough, gave up a breakaway goal but got a good bounce and got the next one.

Q: Was it a confidence booster for you when Ville Leino was able to get that equalizer so quickly in the third?

Leighton:  That was nice. Obviously you don't want to be in the last five minutes of a game thinking about getting an equalizer. Ville did a great job, good goal, and we kind of hung in from there.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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