The Montreal Canadiens have a recent history of struggling against the Philadelphia Flyers and more often than not it has been a lopsided affair in favour of Philly in recent years. Tonight Montreal reversed that trend and took it to the Flyers by a final score of 4-1.
Montreal is now on a 5 game point scoring streak while Philly’s loss ended their two game winning streak (both wins against Toronto.) After a heartbreaking loss for the Habs back on December 8th, Montreal got off to a solid “road game” start and took the crowd out of it early. The fans never really got into the game as Montreal seemed to be in control throughout the contest.
Montreal 1-0: With Chris Therien in the box, the Habs take the lead 8 minutes into the contest on a beautiful tic-tac-toe play between Koivu, Ribeiro and Zednik. Michael Ryder dug the puck out from behind the net and dished it up to the top of the faceoff circle where Koivu hurredly dished it off the Ribeiro at the side of the net who then went cross-crease to Zednik who snuck the puck past Robert Esche.
Montreal 2-0: On a somewhat similar play to the first goal, the Habs again complete a nice string of passes on the power play and Zednik again finishes the play. This time it was Ribeiro getting the puck to Ryder, who found Zednik at the side of the net who potted his second of the game and his 17th of the season. Zednik has been producing at a nice clip since his goal drought that lasted almost a month from mid-October to mid-November and seems poised to register another 30 goal season.
Montreal 3-0: Ryder makes a nice play to keep Philly from clearing the puck and gets it on the half boards. He then feeds it around the boards to Koivu who was waiting for it. Koivu sends it in front for Bulis and Bulis snaps it home for the goal and the 3-0 Habs lead.
Montreal 3-1: Philadelphia gets on the board as they win an offensive zone faceoff courtesy of Keith Primeau against the NHL’s number one faceoff man, Yanic Perreault. Gagne takes the puck off of the faceoff and is basically left untouched as he skates in front of the net and gets Philly on the board with just a minute and 18 seconds remaining. There was not much defense on this play on the Habs part, there really isn’t much else to say.
Montreal 4-1: Just 18 seconds after the Flyers tied it up, Montreal regains the 3 goal lead with just 1 minute remaining. Surprisingly Ken Hitchcock decides not to pull goaltender Robert Esche for the extra attacker and a Philly turnover turns it into a 2 on 1 for the Canadiens. Ryder elects to keep and he is able to squeak it past Esche on the far side.
– The Habs are now an impressive 16-6-5-1 since the Outdoor game in Edmonton.
– Richard Zednik had a chance at a hat-trick but he failed to capitalize on a Penalty Shot. Zednik completely missed the net as he was looking to become the first Hab to score on a Penalty Shot since Martin Rucinsky back in 2001.
– Michael Ryder extended his rookie points lead with 3 on the night to give him 36 for the season.
– Mike Ribeiro has now tallied 14 points in his last 8 games.
Habs Hero: Hard to pick on a night like this, but I’ll go with Michael Ryder as he is tearing up the league in his first NHL season. Ryder made some nice plays along the boards that turned into goals or quality scoring chances for Montreal.
Habs Zero: Equally as hard to choose from, and I might be stretching it tonight, but I’ll go with Sheldon Souray (is this a first?) Souray just didn’t seem himself tonight, in fact he hasn’t been himself for a couple of games now. He made a few poor decisions with the puck that could have turned into Philly goals in the third period.
Bottom Line: The Habs beat a strong Philly team that looked to be gaining some momentum at this point after two good outings against Toronto. Montreal’s surprising season continues as they travel to New Jersey for a Friday night matchup before coming home to face the Leafs Saturday night.
HW Game Recap: Perfect road game