BOSTON — When he entered the game to replace injured goaltender Brian Boucher 4:31 into the second period tonight, Flyers veteran puck-stopper Michael Leighton had one thing on his mind.
“Obviously, letting a goal early in the game,” said Leighton, who hadn’t played since March 16 because of a high ankle sprain. “We’re up 1-0 and if they score when I’m just starting to get comfortable, then it’s a 1-1 game and I didn’t want to lose confidence in the team. So I just made one or two routine stops early when I went in and the team played well after that.”
Leighton finished with 14 saves on that many shots, as Philadelphia extended its Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Bruins to six games with a 4-0 win at TD Garden.
Luckily for Leighton, his first couple stops were just the start of a routine evening thanks to a Bruins team that suddenly morphed back into the club that finished last in the league in regular-season scoring and didn’t put up much of a fight to do it. Boston put less traffic in front of Leighton than there is in Omaha on a Sunday night and were content to fire from the perimeter almost all night long — that is, when they had the puck. Boston’s defense was so poor, the Flyers dominated in time of possession most of the evening.
“We definitely would have liked to have tested him a lot more,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “I think it was pretty clear that we wanted to get some shots on him. That didn’t happen.”
“We didn’t get enough [shots], period,” added winger Mark Recchi, who managed just one shot on net. “Even when [Boucher] was in net. We were getting outshot at the time, even when he got hurt. We weren’t sharp at all and we weren’t ready to commit like they were and we weren’t skating and we weren’t executing, and they were better than us tonight.”
The Flyers have been through goaltender changes all season, with Ray Emery going down twice, Boucher going down once before and Leighton leaving the lineup in March. So it should have been no surprise that they didn’t panic when Chris Pronger and the Flyers’ medical staff had to help Boucher to the dressing room after Philly defenseman Ryan Parent awkwardly landed on his teammate.
“It doesn’t matter who is in the pipes for us,” said forward Scott Hartnell. “We play well in front of them and they are making big stops they need to make. And like I said, we are excited about it and we’re fired up.”
Depending on the severity of Boucher’s injury, Leighton could wind up being the man down the stretch of this series.
“It’s been a roller-coaster year for goalies and we’ve all done a good job playing net,” said Leighton. “It’s just unfortunate. You can go a whole year without seeing a goalie injured and there’s been a lot this year, so we’ve seen a lot of guys in the lineup and we’ve all played pretty well. So we’re happy with that.”