One victory away from reaching the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1997, the surging Flyers are understandably feeling good about themselves.

But they realize they have unfinished business.

"I don't think anyone in this room is overconfident," defenseman Chris Pronger said after Saturday's impressive 3-0 victory in Montreal. "The fourth win is always the hardest to get, so we have to make sure we have that closer's mentality."

The seventh-seeded Flyers can win the Eastern Conference finals by defeating the eighth-seeded Canadiens Monday at the Wachovia Center, where fans hope to be singing ole-ole-ole at the game's end.

The Flyers lead the best-of-seven series, three games to one.

Center Danny Briere said the Flyers need to be careful and not look ahead. Anything can happen, he said, using the Flyers' comeback from a 3-0 series deficit against Boston - and the Canadiens' rallies from 3-1 and 3-2 series deficits against the Capitals and Penguins, respectively, as Exhibits A, B, and C.

"If there's a team that would know that, it's us with what we were able to do in the previous round to the Bruins, and also what Montreal did to Pittsburgh and Washington," said Briere, a 13-year veteran who has never played in the Stanley Cup Finals. "We're definitely not going to take them for granted. We expect them to come out with a lot of desperation, but at the same time, yes, we know we're getting closer."

Montreal has been blanked three times in four games by Michael Leighton, who could become the first goalie in NHL history to post shutouts in all four wins in a series.

Except for its 5-1 blowout victory in Game 3, Montreal has not been able to get much traffic in front of Leighton, owner of a 1.37 goals-against average and .951 save percentage in seven playoff games.

"We didn't execute, and we got away from the game plan," said Montreal center Tomas Plekanec, referring to Saturday's struggles. "We had too many guys trying to do it by themselves. We didn't support the defense, and they didn't support us."

Still, the Flyers respect the Canadiens and what they have accomplished in their two previous series.

"They've been able to rally and come back," Pronger said. "We obviously want to stymie that and make sure we're putting our foot on the throat."

Jeff Carter and Ian Laperriere returned from long injury layoffs and were effective in Game 4. That enabled the Flyers to roll out four productive lines.

With the Flyers healthy, they are "feeling comfortable throwing any line on the ice at any time," captain Mike Richards said.

The Flyers, winners of seven of their last eight games, limited Montreal to 17 shots in Game 4 - and few good scoring chances.

"We went back to keeping it simple, work hard and start winning battles," said Claude Giroux, who scored two goals, including an empty-netter. "When we start working, I think we have more chances. If we keep it simple and work hard, good stuff is going to happen."

Despite being in a three-games-to-one hole, Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban sounded confident. Ultimately, the Canadiens hope to become the first team in NHL history to win three straight series in seven games.

"We know we can beat these guys," Subban said. "We're facing elimination, but we've been there before."

"I guess we have to tap into that familiar feeling," left winger Michael Cammalleri said.

The Flyers will be trying to clinch a series on their home ice for the first time in this year's playoffs. They wrapped up the conference quarterfinals with a 3-0 Game 5 win in New Jersey, then won the conference semifinals with an epic 4-3 Game 7 victory in Boston.

The Flyers haven't clinched a series at home since they defeated New Jersey, 3-1, to end the 2004 Eastern Conference quarterfinals in five games. Since then, they have won five series, with those clinchers all on the road.

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