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Cullen: Habs, Flyers Still Playing

Scott Cullen
5/11/2010 8:03:28 AM
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The NHL playoffs are turning into quite a grind, with many teams missing important contributors due to injury, but the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers have managed to persevere and live to play another day.

SURVIVOR: PHILADELPHIA
In a series of attrition, the Philadelphia Flyers have won a couple to stave off elimination by the Boston Bruins and head home for Game Six.

Game Five OT hero Simon Gagne put home a pair of goals to put Game Five out of reach and was helped along the way by Ville Leino, the spare-part forward who is making the most of his chance to play in the postseason, tallying five points in the last four games.

But, this is a series that is leaving players beaten and bruised and the Flyers' Claude Giroux did miss the third period after a nasty hit by Boston's Steve Begin.  The Flyers are suggesting that it was only precautionary, but given Giroux's difficulty in the aftermath of the hit, it's possible he's not going to be 100% for Game Six.

Even the goaltenders can't avoid injury.  Brian Boucher, who has been a steady hand in goal for the Flyers, injured both of his knees, which opens the door for Michael Leighton's return to action.

Leighton, who was pegged as the Flyers' starter before a late-season ankle injury, came out of the bullpen to share the Game Five shutout with Boucher and will take the reins from this point on.

For their part, the Bruins did get defenceman Mark Stuart back in the lineup, but are clearly missing David Krejci, the creative centre who has a dislocated wrist.

There's a sense that whichever of these two teams is left standing at the end of the series, they're not necessarily going to be in prime position going into the next round, but before worrying about that, can the Flyers win a third straight game to push the Bruins, who held a 3-0 series lead, to Game Seven?


HABS PLAY ON
Sidney Crosby scored his first goal of the series, batting a rebound out of mid-air to do so, and played 26:10 -- a total he surpassed in regulation just twice all season, so the Penguins are pushing their superstar hard. 

Even with Crosby getting a couple of points, it was Montreal and playoff sniper Mike Cammalleri carrying the day.  Cammalleri buried two more goals, giving him six for the series and 11 for the playoffs; not bad for a guy who had gone 12 games without a goal to finish the regular season.

Montreal was missing defenceman Hal Gill (among others), but did get Jaroslav Spacek back in the lineup for the first time since Game Three against Washington and Spacek scored his first playoff goal since May of 2006.

Maxim Lapierre netted the eventual game-winning goal for Montreal, using a nifty change of pace move in the corner to elude Alex Goligoski before cutting to the net and scoring; a skillful goal that was admittedly a tad shocking coming from a player with 35 goals in 255 career games and is known more for his agitating ways on the ice.

Rookie defenceman P.K. Subban was eased into the Canadiens' lineup when he was first called up, but no more.  He led all skaters with 29:11 of ice time in Game Six and was plus-2.

Kristopher Letang scores his fifth of the playoffs for Pittsburgh, good enough to lead all defencemen in the postseason.  Strangely enough, Letang only has one assist, making him a runaway Cy Young winner among blueliners.

Trade deadline acquisition Alexei Ponikarovsky was scratched again for the Penguins and it says something that the Pens prefer the contributions of Mark Letestu, Craig Adams and Mike Rupp, even in a fourth-line role.  In 26 games, combining regular season and playoffs, Ponikarovsky has three goals, 13 points and a minus-7 rating with Pittsburgh; not what was expected.

So now the series returns to Pittsburgh for Game Seven.  Montreal has already shocked Washington.  Can they do it again?

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca and followed at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen.



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