Canadiens Lose Tug-of-War With Flyers, 4-3
Gord Miller is probably not wrong in his assessment that HBO could probably have made a special about this game. Unfortunately for the Canadiens, they would not be the heroes in this one.
After a topsy-turvy matchup that saw the game tied three times, the Flyers finally came out of the Bell Centre with a 4-3 win in hand while the Habs saw more of referee Chris Lee than the back of the Flyers' net.
Philadelphia got on the board first as everyone's eyes were on Jakub Voracek's dazzling dashes into the offensive zone, leaving none on Max Talbot, who potted the game's first goal. After the Pronger-and-Giroux-less Flyers left several power play chances for their opponents, including multiple 5-on-3's, the Canadiens thought they'd finally cashed in one one before Tomas Plekanec's apparent goal was disallowed for Erik Cole having been standing right in the blue paint.
(Somewhere, Brett Hull is probably laughing, twelve years later.)
The Habs would thus have to wait until the second period before their response counted. David Desharnais' 5th of the year came just over five minutes in, before almost immediately being erased by Harry Zolnierczyk 46 seconds later. The Habs seemed unable to counter.
Louis Leblanc's 1st career NHL goal came on a night he had just over four minutes of ice time. Recent call-up Michael Blunden picked up an assist on the play. But the go-ahead goal remained elusive for Montreal, despite even more power play chances being thrown at them. Flyers' rookie Sean Couturier in particular was overly generous with 6 PIM on the night on his own.
Then a Wayne Simmonds wrister put the visiting club up by a goal again with less than two minutes to go in the second frame. But Couturier's second minor of the night provided a window of opportunity in the closing moments, and sure enough, Erik Cole cleared himself of his so-called previous wrongdoing by coming through with a power play goal with just over 15 seconds remaining in the period. The goal was listed officially as a wrist-shot goal, but it probably should have been renamed to something of a kerfuffle.
That goal, like just about everything it seemed, would end up briefly on the review board. Not overturned this time, however.
After 20 minutes and five goals, the third period featured only one: Andrej Meszaros' third of the season. The point-shot that squeezed through Carey Price's pads would eventually seal the deal on the game, as the Canadiens had just about run out of man-advantage opportunities and were making too many mistakes in all three zones to properly capitalize on what was given to them.
Montreal's win-streak is now snapped at two, and they have dropped to 13-12-7. The Flyers, most of whom had yet to be informed that their captain Chris Pronger will miss the rest of the regular season and the playoffs due to a concussion, are now sitting atop the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and have won 7 in a row despite also being without their leading scorer, Claude Giroux.
The Canadiens will now look ahead to Saturday's rematch against the Devils, which will come a week after having beaten them 2-1 with the help of newly acquired defenseman Tomas Kaberle. Then they will undergo the Dreaded Christmas Roadtrip Series™, with stops in Boston, Chicago, Winnipeg, Ottawa, Tampa Bay and Florida to close out the year of 2011.
★Matt Carle, Philadelphia Flyers (3A, +2, 23:43 TOI)
★★David Desharnais, Montreal Canadiens (1G, 1A, E, 19:22 TOI)
★★★Louis Leblanc, Montreal Canadiens (1G, +1, 4:21 TOI)
Shots on Goal