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Philadelphia Flyers defeat Montreal Canadiens to advance to Stanley Cup finals

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By Tarik El-Bashir
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 25, 2010

PHILADELPHIA -- With a pair of goals 1 minute 24 seconds apart Monday, the Philadelphia Flyers made sure their improbable romp through the postseason will feature one final chapter.

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Arron Asham and Jeff Carter scored on consecutive shifts early in the second period to break open Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals, then Flyers goalie Michael Leighton made sure they held on for a 4-2 victory that eliminated the Montreal Canadiens and propelled Philadelphia into the Stanley Cup finals.

"We haven't done anything conventional all year," captain Mike Richards said when asked why he broke with tradition and picked up the Prince of Wales Trophy when it was presented to him by deputy NHL commissioner Bill Daly. "Especially in this playoffs. So might as well go against the grain one more time."

On Saturday, the Flyers will meet Conn Smythe Trophy favorite Jonathan Toews and the Western Conference champion Chicago Blackhawks, who swept the San Jose Sharks. It will be Philadelphia's eighth trip to the Cup finals; they won back-to-back titles in 1974 and 1975 and then lost the next five.

The Flyers and Blackhawks met once in the regular season, March 13 on Broad Street, where Philadelphia won, 3-2, on a goal by Chris Pronger with 2.1 seconds left to play.

But before Pronger and his teammates could begin thinking about the Blackhawks, they had to survive a late scare from a Canadiens team that had already staved off elimination five times in this postseason.

Scott Gomez scored his first goal since the opening night of the playoffs at 6:53 of the third period to cut the Canadiens' deficit to 3-2. Then the Flyers had to kill off the first 2:37 of a double minor for high-sticking assessed to Pronger.

The Braydon Coburn-led penalty kill unit limited the Canadiens to only one shot and Ian Laperriere, in his second game back after suffering a brain contusion from blocking a shot with his face, threw himself in front of a second Montreal scoring chance, drawing a thunderous ovation from the capacity crowd.

In all, the Flyers' penalty kill held the Canadiens' power play to 1 for 22 in the series and 0 for 6 on Monday.

Carter's second goal, scored into an empty net with 23 seconds remaining, clinched the win.

"We have a group of guys in that room that no matter what happens, they never give up," Carter said. "I think we've seen that come to the forefront in these playoffs here. It's a pretty amazing thing to be a part of."

Leighton finished with 25 saves, stopping 11 of the 12 shots he faced in the third period to improve to 6-1 and help the Flyers run their home record to 7-1. Leighton, who was claimed on waivers in December, stopped 95 of 102 shots he faced in the series.

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