Montreal won't soon forget the second-period road scorchings it endured at the hands of the new Broad Street Bullies.

The Canadiens, in a win-or-pack-up-for-good predicament, sent an early message Monday night to the Flyers, with forward Brian Gionta beating red-hot netminder Michael Leighton just 59 seconds into Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals.

By early in the second period, after the hosts had notched a pair of goals in head-spinning fashion, things were back to normal at the Wachovia Center. The Flyers, continuing their dominance in South Philly, posted a 4-2 victory and earned a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1997.

It was the third time in as many home games that the Flyers took firm control of things with a rock-solid effort in the second period. They netted two goals in the frame's first five minutes and outshot the Canadiens by 12-6.

In Game 1, a three-goal explosion in the second period paved the way for a 6-0 shutout. In Game 2, Simon Gagne's power-play goal at 15 minutes, 49 seconds of the second period helped ignite a 3-0 win.

Of the second-period success, Flyers center Mike Richards said, "I don't know why it is, but it obviously helped us today. We did a good job of getting the puck in deep and circling them."

In three games here, the Canadiens, who were bidding for their 25th Stanley Cup, were outscored by 13-2. Leighton stopped 83 of 85 shots at home.

While Montreal goalie Jaroslav Halak was mostly spectacular in the first and second rounds against Washington and Pittsburgh, respectively, he looked average at best in this series.

Halak was chased midway through a 6-0 defeat in Game 1, heading to the locker room after Gagne made it 4-0.

On Monday night, it was Richards' open-net, shorthanded score - Halak collided with defenseman Roman Hamrlik while skating way out for a loose puck, and Richards capitalized on the mistake - that put the hosts back on track after Gionta's first-minute stunner.

Richards' spectacular sixth postseason goal upped his points total in the playoffs to a team-high 19. He later added two assists, his 14th and 15th, to increase it to 21.

Special-teams play was again a major factor. In the first period, when the Canadiens had a 9-6 advantage in shots, the Flyers killed three penalties. The two whistled in the opening seven minutes were against defenseman Kimmo Timonen (roughing) and recently returned forward Jeff Carter (tripping).

Right winger Arron Asham combined with another lesser-known Flyer, defenseman Matt Carle, to make it a 2-1 contest 3:07 into the second period.

Insurance came 1:24 later when Carter, positioned in front, made good on a behind-the-net feed from Richards by wristing a shot past Halak. That left the Canadiens, who called for a 30-second time-out, searching in vain for the formula that keyed unlikely comebacks against the Capitals and Penguins.

"I don't know if we ran out of gas," Montreal coach Jacques Martin said. "We battled hard, but just weren't able to score enough goals."

Contact staff writer Rick O'Brien at 610-313-8019 or robrien@phillynews.com.