PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Up by four goals with a period to go, the Philadelphia Flyers were not going to be caught napping.
The Flyers know all about comebacks, and their stunning rallies days earlier were so fresh in their minds that the Montreal Canadiens didn't have a chance to rebound.
Michael Leighton made sure they didn't even score.
After a stirring Game 7 win over the Boston Bruins that capped a comeback from three games down, the Flyers scored early against Jaroslav Halak and the Canadiens and rolled to a 6-0 win in the opener of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday night.
"At 3-0, we had a chance to go on the power play and make them pay on that. And we did," forward Simon Gagne said. "Even when it's 3 0, you never know in hockey what can happen.
"It's only one game. This one is done now. We have to focus on Game 2."
Leighton was strong in a slow-starting first period for the Flyers and finished with 28 saves in his first NHL playoff shutout. James van Riemsdyk, Danny Briere and Gagne scored in a span of 9:23 in the second period to turn it into a rout.
"It makes it a little bit easier when we score that many goals," Leighton said. "In the second period, we played really well. We got a few goals and that kind of calmed me down and I think it calmed the team down. It took a lot of pressure off us."
There would be no comeback necessary this time for the surging Flyers, who bounced back from a 3-0 series hole against the Bruins and a three-goal deficit in Game 7 in Boston on Friday night. Philadelphia has won five straight and is 5-1 in the playoffs in front of its orange-clad crowd.
"We know they're going to come back a lot better, a lot stronger in the next game," Briere said. "The goal was to keep home-ice advantage — win the two games. We're just halfway there."
Halak was easily outplayed by Leighton, who is unbeaten since replacing the injured Brian Boucher in Game 5 of Philadelphia's win over Boston.
Game 2 of the NHL's first final four matchup between a No. 7 and No. 8 seed will be Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
Montreal has been adept at coming from behind, too. The Canadiens erased a 3-1 series deficit in the first round, and were down 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 in the second.
"We have to analyze the game, no doubt," Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said. "It was our overall game that made us successful the first and second round, and we didn't compete the way we needed to win."
The seventh-seeded Flyers were stunned to have home-ice advantage for the first time since the second round in 2004, and quickly made the most of it. Philadelphia also took a 1-0 lead in the opening round against New Jersey before finishing that series in five games.
Defenseman Braydon Coburn scored his first NHL playoff goal during a first-period power play, van Riemsdyk pushed the lead to 2-0 just 30 seconds into the middle frame, and Briere and Gagne — on another power play — beat Halak 5:30 apart to finish the spurt.
"They probably had the scouting report and knew Halak was playing well. Creating traffic is the only way to beat a goalie playing good," said Canadiens backup Carey Price, who allowed third-period goals to Scott Hartnell and Claude Giroux.
Since falling behind 3-0 in the first period of Game 7 at Boston, the Flyers have outscored opponents 10-0. Leighton will take a shutout streak of 105 minutes, 50 seconds into Game 2. Not bad for a guy who sat out because of an ankle injury from March 16 until May 10.
He has allowed only four goals on 98 shots in four games since taking over for Boucher, who is likely out for the postseason with a knee injury.
"They had a couple of good chances in the first period," Leighton said. "I made the saves I should make."
Halak, the biggest factor in the eighth-seeded Canadiens' upset playoff wins against top-seeded Washington and defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh, was gone 9:53 into the second after facing only 14 shots. He entered this series with an NHL-best .933 save percentage in the playoffs and a 2.42 goals-against average.
"When you're facing a goalie that is hot like that, you have to try to make his life miserable," Briere said. "Early on, we did that."
The Canadiens, in the conference finals for the first time since 1993, endured chants of "USA! USA!" and heard mocking recitals of the familiar "Ole, Ole, Ole" song that often resonates at home.
The Flyers insisted there would be no emotional or physical carry-over from their stunning win over Boston, and then proved it.
Philadelphia had only one day off between the end of the Bruins series and the opener against Montreal. Instead of looking hung over after becoming the third NHL team to win a series it trailed 3-0, the Flyers appear to still be riding a wave.
The Canadiens helped the cause by taking a series of uncharacteristic undisciplined penalties — three of which directly led to goals.
Coburn started the scoring when he put in a rebound of Ville Leino's shot that bounced around in front of Halak while speedy forward Scott Gomez served a roughing penalty.
The Canadiens held a 13-6 shots advantage in the first despite not putting a puck on Leighton until 5:30 elapsed. There were two penalties called before either team recorded a shot.
The tide turned in the second period when Giroux cleanly won an offensive zone faceoff from Gomez, and nudged the puck softly toward Halak. Van Riemsdyk took two whacks at it and knocked it past Halak.
Just a second after Maxim Lapierre's penalty ended, Briere slapped a shot from the top of the right circle for his team-best eighth of the playoffs. Gagne, who has five goals and six points in five games since returning from a toe injury, made it 4-0 during another power play and ended Halak's night.
"That's the last guy you pin it on," Gomez said of Halak. "We're here because of him."