The Philadelphia Flyers couldn't have hoped for a better game than Saturday afternoon's contest against the Canadiens. Game Four went off without a hitch for Philly, as they easily cruised to a 3-0 shutout win to take a stranglehold on the Eastern Conference Finals.
The win for the Flyers can mostly be attributed to physicality and tight defensive play. Midway through the second frame, after Mike Richards laid a nice open-ice hit on Hal Gill, Claude Giroux took advantage of a Josh Gorges broken skate and went to the net to bury a beauty goal top cheddar on Jaroslav Halak.
Ville Leino grabbed another gorgeous goal on a feed from Chris Pronger later in the period to put the Flyers up 2-0.
From there, Philadelphia executed a perfect plan for the third period and stalemated a Canadiens offense that simply didn't exist. After being hit throughout the first two frames, the Habs seemed to lose their wheels and didn't show any urgency in the final period.
The Flyers simply shut down all of their rushes and turned the puck up ice. In fact, I was very surprised by how well Philadelphia can throw the puck down the ice without actually icing it. It melted the clock, and eventually Giroux scored his second of the night into an open net to finish the game.
It's the third time in four games that the Flyers have blanked the Habs, and Mike Leighton looked good in goal when he needed to for Philadelphia. But he really didn't have to do a whole lot as the Flyers played extremely tight in front of him.
Chris Pronger had perhaps one of his best games of the playoffs and it's easy to see that the big guy fumes playoff success. Pronger hauled in 31 minutes of ice time like it was a piece of cake and the Habs had no answer for him.
Now the Flyers have the Canadiens at the brink of elimination and are one win away from a date with Stanley. They'll look to close out the series in front of a packed Wachovia Center that will surely be absolutely booming on Monday night.
Flyers Jeff Carter and Ian Laperierre returned for Game Four. Carter looked good playing reduced minutes for only 13:51 of ice time, he had four shots on goal for the game. Laperierre took one penalty but otherwise played well physically and racked up 9:13 of ice time.