Philadelphia Flyers bombard Jaroslav Halak and the Montreal Canadiens in Game 1

By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 17, 2010

PHILADELPHIA -- For much of the Montreal Canadiens' improbable march to the Eastern Conference finals, the one constant they could count on, even on nights when they weren't at their best, was an otherworldly effort from goalie Jaroslav Halak.

But in Sunday's opener, Halak was ordinary on a night when ordinary wasn't nearly good enough. The Philadelphia Flyers crashed the net, then chased Halak from it, en route to a 6-0 throttling at Wachovia Center.

"When you're facing a hot goalie like that, you have to try to make his life miserable," said center Danny Brière, one of six Flyers to score in the first meeting between a seventh and eighth seed in a conference final. "Early on, we did that. The key was having somebody screening him, making life tough on him in his crease."

Halak, the postseason leader in save percentage (.933), limited Philadelphia to one goal in a first period filled with quality chances. But, with no help from his undisciplined teammates, he couldn't hold back the Flyers in the second period.

Only 30 seconds in, James van Riemsdyk made it 2-0 when he jammed a rebound into the Montreal net. The goal came on a set play initiated by Claude Giroux, who jumped Scott Gomez on the draw and sent the puck to a cutting van Riemsdyk.

"That's the first time it's ever worked," van Riemsdyk said. "Now we'll have to disguise it a little because they'll be expecting it."

About four minutes later, just after a roughing minor to Montreal grinder Maxim Lapierre expired, Brière ripped a shot from the top of the circle past to make it 3-0.

Simon Gagné put the game out of reach with the help of another Canadiens penalty. With Andrei Kostitsyn in the box for boarding, Gagné scored his fifth goal since returning from a broken toe five games ago, snapping a shot from the top of the circle on Philadelphia's 13 shot.

Canadiens Coach Jacques Martin promptly replaced Halak with Carey Price as Flyers spectators mocked Montreal by chanting "Ole, ole ole" -- a Bell Centre hallmark.

Philadelphia improved to 5-1 in front of their boisterous Orange-clad crowd on Broad Street.

"Philly fans are definitely ruthless," van Riemsdyk chuckled.

Halak was also pulled once in each of the two preceding series before returning to lead the eighth-seeded Canadiens to victory.

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