Michael Ryder worked a give and go with Saku Koivu and converted the return pass for his second goal of the season just 38 seconds into the game, Andrei Markov also picked up his third assist of the season on Ryder’s goal.
The first period featured six power plays, four of which were for the Flyers. During the Canadiens first penalty kill Steve Begin and Tomas Plekanec broke down the ice on a 2 on.1 rush, Plekanec sent a pass into the slot that Begin deflected on goal but Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki showed off his lateral mobility smothering the Begin opportunity. Neither team was able to muster a goal for the remainder of the period.
Alex Kovalev extended the Canadiens lead when he scored his first goal of the season from the slot in the second period. The goal was a result of what appeared to be a broken play when Tomas Plekanec slid the puck back to Alex Kovalev for the goal. Sergei Samsonov picked up his first point as a Montreal Canadien with an assist on the Kovalev goal.
David Aebischer had made 14 saves through the first two periods but on the Flyers fourth shot of the third period his shutout disappeared. R J Umberger potted the rebound in the gaping net while Aebischer was down an out on his belly in the crease. Jeff Carter and Mike Knuble picked up assists on the goal.
As the third period was winding down Mathieu Dandenault took the Canadiens eighth minor penalty of the evening. Peter Forsberg drew the penalty when he fell in the corner behind the Canadiens net. Radek Bonk and Mike Johnson ensured the Flyers could not get a shot on goal for the first minute of the penalty kill. Then Chris Higgins came over the boards, stole the puck from Forsberg and launched it 78 feet into the Flyer’s vacant net for his second goal of the season.
The Canadiens special teams tonight was a mix bag as the penalty kill want 100% killing off all eight Flyers powerplay’s with much credit going to David Aebischer, Mike Johnson and Radek Bonk who logged over eleven combined minutes short handed . The powerplay on the other hand went unsuccessful four times. The Habs powerplay was disorganized and had little flow; forcing Carbonneau to slightly juggle the second unit replacing Plekanec with Alexander Perezhogin for a few powerplay shifts later in the game.
Aaron Downey was inserted into the Canadiens lineup in favor of Garth Murray and by all accounts earned himself a spot in the Canadiens home opener on Saturday night against Ottawa. Janne Niinimaa continued to improve his game logging almost 20 minutes and creating a few scoring chances using his impressive foot speed.
1. David Aebischer was excellent tonight keeping the Canadiens in the lead all night long.
2. Alex Kovalev was invisible for most of the first period but scored a goal in the second and back checked his way to the second star in the final two periods.
3. Mike Richards picked up the third star with some impressive penalty killing and leading the Flyers in takeaways.
1. Andrei Markov and Alex Kovalev both have started the season off with three game point streaks.
2. The Habs have allowed just a single powerplay goal against this season on 19 chances for the opposition.
3. The Habs have now won 5 of their last 7 meetings against the Flyers.