Since returning from an ankle injury, Michael Leighton has been brilliant in the postseason - he has outplayed Boston's Tuukka Rask and Montreal's Jaroslav Halak - so it's not surprising that signing the blossoming goalie is on the Flyers' off-season to-do list, according to a club source.

Leighton can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

The source said Leighton, who turned 29 on Wednesday, was at the top of the club's goalie wish list.

"Goalies sometimes develop later, and that seems to be the case with Michael," the source said. "And he works so well with Jeff Reese," the team's goalie coach.

Leighton, whose team faces Montreal in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference final Monday, earned $600,000 (divided by the Flyers and Carolina) this season but figures to be headed for a huge raise. After being claimed off re-entry waivers from Carolina in December, Leighton rescued the Flyers' season by going 16-5-2 and posting a 2.48 goals-against average and .918 save percentage.

In the playoffs, Leighton is 5-1 with a 1.37 goals-against average and .951 save percentage in seven games. (He has one no-decision) He has become the first goalie in Flyers history to post three shutouts in a playoff series. That's also the first time that has happened to Montreal in its 101-year history.

No goalie in NHL history has ever won all four games of a series with a shutout. Leighton has a chance to accomplish that feat Monday - and send the Flyers into the Stanley Cup Finals against Chicago.

Leader board

In the four games against Montreal, defenseman Braydon Coburn and center Claude Giroux lead the Flyers with plus-7 ratings. Giroux and Simon Gagne top the club with three goals apiece in the series.

Ville Leino and Giroux have each notched a team-high five points in the four games.

In the playoffs overall, Danny Briere (nine goals, nine assists) and Mike Richards (five goals, 13 assists) share the club lead with 18 points. Chris Pronger (48 blocked shots), Darroll Powe (47 hits), and Briere (four game-winning goals; 46 shots) are the team leaders in other categories.

Close to arrest

Detective Anthony Vega said Sunday Philadelphia police have identified a suspect and are close to arresting the person who vandalized the car belonging to Montreal Gazette writer Pat Hickey, who was covering Game 1 at the Wachovia Center.

In an e-mail, Vega wrote that the police have to "dot some I's and cross some T's before the D.A.'s office will approve an arrest affidavit."

Tickets available

The Flyers have a limited number of tickets available but expect the visiting team and the league to release additional tickets by noon Monday. Tickets can be purchased online at philadelphiaflyers.com or by calling 800-298-4200.

 Breakaways

The Flyers have five shutouts in the playoffs, equaling a club record set in 1975 (four by Bernie Parent, one by Wayne Stephenson). In addition to Leighton's three postseason shutouts, Brian Boucher has one, and the other was a combined effort by the two goalies. . . . The Flyers are 18-2 in series in which they had a three-games-to-one lead. . . . In this year's playoffs, the Flyers are 7-1 when they score first, while Montreal is 1-7 when opponents score first. . . . The Flyers have won seven of the last eight playoff games against Montreal, including four victories in the 2008 series. . . . The Flyers scored a 3-2 win over Chicago in the teams' only meeting this season.

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at 215-854-5181 or scarchidi@phillynews.com.
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