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Flyers Advance to NHL Stanley Cup Final Against Blackhawks

The Philadelphia Flyers will play the Chicago Blackhawks for the Stanley Cup after ending the Montreal Canadiens’ National Hockey League playoff run.

Jeff Carter scored two goals and Mike Richards had a goal and two assists in the Flyers’ 4-2 win over the Canadiens last night at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia.

The Flyers won the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals 4-1 to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1997. They’ll be seeking their first NHL championship since the “Broad Street Bullies” won two straight in 1974-75.

“I don’t want to say we’re destined or anything, but we have a great team,” Richards said during a news conference. “We’re going to lay it all out there.”

The Flyers earned a playoff berth on the final day of the regular season and advanced to the finals ranked the seventh of eight teams in the Eastern Conference. In the second round, they eliminated the Boston Bruins by becoming the first NHL team in 35 years to rally to victory from a 0-3 deficit in a best-of-seven playoff series.

Philadelphia held the Canadiens to seven goals in five games, with goaltender Michael Leighton recording three shutouts to run his postseason record to 6-1. Montreal was coming off series wins against the Washington Capitals, who had the NHL’s best regular-season record, and the reigning Stanley Cup-champion Pittsburgh Penguins.

‘Never Quit’

“We just kept on going, we never quit,” Richards said. “That was the script all year. The journey hasn’t ended and hopefully we have a Cinderella story at the end. It’s going to be tough, but this feels pretty good right now.”

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final is scheduled for May 29 at the United Center in Chicago.

The Blackhawks, who swept the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference finals, are seeking their first NHL title since 1961.

The Flyers fell behind 59 seconds into last night’s game when Brian Gionta beat Leighton for his ninth goal of the playoffs. Richards tied the game for Philadelphia less than 3 1/2 minutes later with a shorthanded goal.

Arron Asham and Carter scored goals 1:24 apart early in the second period to put the Flyers ahead 3-1. Scott Gomez’s goal 6:53 into the third period pulled the Canadiens within 3-2.

Carter then scored with 23 seconds left after the Canadiens removed their goaltender for an extra skater, giving Montreal its first loss in six elimination games this postseason. The Canadiens rallied from a 3-1 series deficit against Washington in the opening round and came from 3-2 down against Pittsburgh in the conference semifinals.

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