Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – Michael Leighton turned aside 30 shots in his first career playoff start, as the Philadelphia Flyers took another step towards history with a 2-1 victory over Boston in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series at Wachovia Center.
Mike Richards and Danny Briere scored for the Flyers, who became just the sixth team in NHL history to force a seventh and deciding game after being down 0-3. Only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1975 New York Islanders came back to win a playoff series after the losing the first three games.
Philadelphia can complete the improbable journey Friday in Boston.
“We know what’s at stake, and it’s pretty special, but the toughest is yet to come,” Briere said. “That Game 7 in Boston will be tough. We expect them to come out with a lot of desperation, so we have to match that.”
Leighton made his postseason debut in relief of an injured Brian Boucher during Game 5, stopping all 14 shots he faced to post the second combined shutout in NHL playoff history. It was Leighton’s first appearance between the pipes since March 16, when he suffered a high ankle sprain in Nashville.
Boucher, meanwhile, is expected to miss at least a month with a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, as well as an injury to his right knee. Boucher was hurt when teammate Ryan Parent fell on him during a goalmouth scrum with the Bruins’ Miroslav Satan early in the second period of Monday’s 4-0 win.
Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask finished with 25 saves.
Milan Lucic spoiled Leighton’s shutout bid with one minute left in regulation, driving the net and banging home the rebound of a Dennis Wideman point shot, but the Bruins squandered another opportunity to put away the Flyers.
“I thought we played very well for spurts,” Wideman said. “We created some offense. They did a good job of keeping us on the outside. We have to try to get more shots through and get to the net a little better.”
The Flyers recorded 30 blocked shots.
Philadelphia joined the 1939 New York Rangers in pushing a series to the limit that Boston once led 3-0. The Bruins, however, did go on to capture their second Stanley Cup that year.
Richards gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead, jumping on a loose puck and scoring into an open net with Rask prone on the ice following a scramble in the crease. Simon Gagne threw a backhander on net and the rebound was not controlled by Rask. Boston defenseman Johnny Boychuk tried to pin the puck against the Finnish netminder, but the disc remained uncovered, and Richards tapped it home at 6:58 of the first period.
Leighton denied Trent Whitfield on a short-handed breakaway later in the opening frame to keep Philadelphia in front.
The Flyers went up 2-0 when Briere converted on a power play as the second period wound below four minutes. Briere gathered a carom off Boychuk’s skate, drifted into the right circle and beat Rask over the left shoulder with 3:40 left.
“I tried to pass it, but when the puck came back to me, I thought it was just meant to be, so I was thinking shoot all the way after that,” Briere said.
Ville Leino had a chance to give Philadelphia a three-goal cushion on a penalty shot, but Rask was up to the task and robbed him with the glove at 12:39 of the third.
Richards added an assist. He leads the Flyers with 16 points in the playoffs…Briere’s six goals are the most on the team…The Flyers are 4-1 at home in the postseason…Four of the six games in this series have been decided by one goal.