In just his second game back from a broken right ankle, Jeff Carter contributed mightily as the Flyers outlasted Montreal, 4-2, on Monday and moved into the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1997.
Carter scored two goals - including an empty-netter that secured the win with 23 seconds left - to help push the Flyers into the Finals against Chicago.
"I just worked hard to get in shape and really didn't know what my role was going to be on the team when I came back because things were going so well," said Carter after playing 17 minutes and 14 seconds and being used at right wing on a line with center Mike Richards and left winger Simon Gagne. "It's obviously good to play with Richie and Gags. It makes it a little easier for myself. I feel every day I've gotten better, and the last two games I think our line has really built."
Earlier in the day, Carter said it's going to take a while before he's at full strength.
Saturday was his first game since he broke his right foot a little over a month.
"I don't know that I'm at the level that I want to. It's going to be a work in progress," Carter said before the Flyers won the series, four games to one.
"I think I basically missed two months. When I came back from my first injury, I wasn't even up to speed yet and broke the other one. So every day I'm getting better. I felt better this morning. So we'll just keep working at it and keep going."
Carter, who led the Flyers with 33 goals in the regular season, said he felt "some nerves" before returning to action Saturday.
"I obviously jumped into a big game like that," he said. "I didn't want to go in and mess anything up with the way the boys were going. I just wanted to go out there and keep it simple and play my game as best I could. I was happy with the way things went."
Carter tied for the team lead in shots (four) and hits (four) in Game 5.
A hit at center ice early in the game "kind of got me going a little bit and gave me a little confidence," he said.
Before breaking his left foot against Atlanta on March 21, Carter had seemed to be regaining the form that enabled him to finish second in the NHL with 46 goals last season. He returned to the lineup on April 9, then broke the right foot in a playoff game against New Jersey on April 20.
Even though Ian Laperriere has twice been hit in the face with a shot this season - the last time, it broke a bone near his eye, bruised his brain, gave him a concussion, and required him to have nearly 70 stitches above his right eye - the Flyers right winger said he will not let it affect his fearless style of play.
"Trust me, it's like if I got a chance to go down, I'll go down again," Laperriere said before making two blocks Monday - including a pivotal one that helped thwart a late Montreal power play. "If I'm afraid of that, I might as well retire because I won't be effective. It's the same thing, there are people asking why are you coming back this year, why not wait for next year? Well, if I'm clear this year, why wait till next year? If I can't come back now, I might as well not come back at all. That's why I'm back."
Laperriere blocked a P.K. Subban shot in the second period of Game 5, igniting chants of "Lap-py . . . Lap-py."
Like Carter, Laperriere returned to action Saturday in Montreal. He is wearing a facial shield on his helmet.
Once again, the Flyers used a Kate Smith and Lauren Hart duet to sing "God Bless America" before the game. A video of the late Smith, performing at the Spectrum, was combined with Hart's live rendition.
The Flyers have an 86-22-4 record when "God Bless America" is heard before games.
"It's amazing. It's so much fun to see the crowd go nuts like that and to start screaming," Danny Briere said before the game. "You have chills everywhere on your body. There is no better feeling to start a game."
Kimmo Timonen led the Flyers with six blocked shots. . . . Dan Carcillo again was a healthy scratch. . . . The Flyers entered Monday with five shutouts in their last 12 playoff games. Before that, it took them six years to notch five playoff shutouts, a span of 56 games. . . . What do the Flyers and Blackhawks have in common? Both lost to teams coached by Scotty Bowman the last time they reached the Finals - the Flyers to the Red Wings in 1997, the Blackhawks to the Penguins in 1992.