PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Michael Leighton continued his unbeaten run since he took over as the Philadelphia Flyers' goaltender to help his team to a 6-0 thrashing of the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL's Eastern Conference finals on Sunday.
The Flyers, who only made the playoffs on the final day of the regular season and rallied from a 3-0 series deficit in the last round against Boston, maintained their momentum with six different goal scorers and 28 saves from Leighton.
Leighton took over as starting goaltender after Brian Boucher was injured in the fifth game of the series against Boston, and he is now 3-0 in the post-season. Philadelphia lead the best-of-seven series 1-0.
"It was a huge win in Boston (on Saturday) and we really came out flying in this game," Leighton told reporters.
"We know they're going to come back and try to put pucks at the net and they're going to come at us a little harder."
The Flyers bombarded Montreal goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who had been instrumental in leading the Canadiens to two seven-game victories over the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, from the outset with Braydon Coburn scoring early in the first.
James van Riemsdyk, Danny Briere and Simon Gagne all scored in the second, forcing Halak to be replaced by Carey Price. Halak had allowed all four goals on 14 shots.
Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux then both scored in the third to complete the rout, with the Flyers looking to continue their momentum into the second game at home on Tuesday.
In San Jose, Antti Niemi made 44 saves to help the Chicago Blackhawks to a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks in the first game of the Western Conference finals.
Niemi gave up a first period goal to Jason Demers then held out the top-seeded Sharks to allow the Blackhawks to take control of the game and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
Patrick Sharp tied the game in the second period and Dustin Byfuglien scored the game-winner with 6:45 remaining to give the visiting Blackhawks the victory.
Evgeni Nabokov made 38 saves for San Jose.
"I don't know why we keep answering questions about (Niemi's ability to play)," Sharp told reporters.
"There are no questions on our side."
(Reporting by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)