Flyers in safe hands

Michael Leighton added another shutout to his resume on Saturday night, but he did not want to talk about it. Right now, he is focused on a much bigger objective.

Philadelphia's Michael Leighton stopped 17 shots against Montreal in Game 4.
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Michael Leighton added another shutout to his resume on Saturday night, but he did not want to talk about it. Right now, he is focused on a much bigger objective. Leighton and the Philadelphia Flyers are just one victory away from reaching the Stanley Cup finals, a step they can take tonight when they face the Montreal Canadiens at home. They are on the brink of the Eastern Conference title after Leighton's third shutout of the series. In a 3-0 win over the Canadiens. Leighton stopped all 17 shots he faced and helped the Flyers take a 3-1 series lead. Leighton, the journeyman goaltender who was claimed off waivers in December, is 5-1 since taking over after Brian Boucher was hurt in the second round. "I'm not really concerned about shutouts right now, I'm concerned about winning," Leighton said. "That's not really on my mind. If we would've won 5-1, I would have been just as happy." The smiles were back on the Flyers' faces as they bounced back from a 5-1 loss in Montreal in Game 3. They delivered on a vow to channel their frustrations and disappointment into one of their most dominant defensive outings of the play-offs. "I can tell you that we didn't play a very good game last game, and it was a kick in the teeth," Peter Laviolette, the Flyers coach, said. "Our guys responded with a better effort." Laviolette's understated response did not reflect how dominating the Flyers were, particularly in the second period when they out-shot the Canadiens 13-1. Philadelphia grabbed the lead when Claude Giroux and Ville Leino scored on breakaway goals nine minutes apart. Giroux then sealed the win with an empty-netter. "We've been a team that's been able to recover from tough defeats like that all season long," Chris Pronger, the defenceman, said. "A quick look in the mirror and understand what you need to do, and we were all able to rally together and play well as a team." Now the question is whether the eighth-seeded Canadiens can engineer another comeback from a 3-1 series deficit to get to the finals for the first time since 1993. Montreal dug out of such a hole in the first round and knocked out Presidents' Trophy-winning Washington. "Confident? I mean, it's a familiar feeling for us," said Michael Cammalleri, the leading scorer. "We seem to play our best hockey in this situation. Here we go again." They will have to play much better because the Flyers beat them in most puck battles and flustered Montreal. That prevented the Canadiens from generating many rushes through the neutral zone. "We just didn't execute. We got impatient and got away from doing that," Brian Gionta, a forward, said. "I think the second period is where we got away from our game. We tried pressing a little too hard and that's when you get away from your game plan." * AP