The Canadiens were looking to right the ship and snap an ugly six-game losing streak when they battled the Philadelphia Flyers in a matinee affair at the Bell Centre. The Habs were the better team for most of the game but a lack of timely scoring cost them as they lost 4-3 in overtime to extend the losing streak to seven.
With the Habs playing the first game of a back-to-back set, Keith Kinkaid was given the start in goal. Cale Fleury drew back into the lineup, playing alongside Gustav Olofsson. After being called up from Laval on Friday, Olofsson was playing in his first game as a Canadien.
The Habs got off to a blistering start in this one and took the lead just nineteen seconds in. Joel Armia won a puck battle on the boards in the Habs zone. He took the puck and started out to centre; it was a harmless looking zone entry until Armia fired a shot by Brian Elliott to get the Habs started.
Just one minute later the Canadiens got a golden opportunity when Philippe Myers got the gate for hooking. Montreal was not in sync during the power play, and they couldn’t string passes together to get into the offensive zone.
Five minutes into the period, Phillip Danault was taken down while on a breakaway and hit his leg into the net. He was slow to get off the ice and was helped to the dressing rooms. Fortunately, he was okay, and came back later in the period.
Halfway through the period, Kinkaid faced his first tough test when he stopped Morgan Frost on a breakaway with a quick pad. He made a couple more key saves before the end of the first.
During the better part of the last week, poor defensive coverage was dooming the Habs game after game. Through the first period this afternoon the Canadiens appeared to be much tighter in their own zone. They were quick to cover passes in the zone and put pressure on the puck carrier as soon as they could. Taking a 1-0 lead into the first period was definitely a step in the right direction.
Armia tried to start the second the same way he started the first. He caught up to a loose puck in the Flyers’ zone and outworked Ivan Provorov to get to it. Armia then found himself alone in tight to the net, but he was stopped by Elliott.
The Flyers started to control the play early in the second period, and they drew even eight minutes into the game. The Habs were in pretty good shape in their own zone, but the puck slid to Justin Braun along the boards. He sent what looked like a harmless looking shot at the net, but it found its way past Kinkaid.
Just thirty seconds later, the Habs jumped right back on the attack. Danault sent the puck back to Shea Weber at the point. Weber then fired a slapper that was stopped. Tomas Tatar was right there and jammed the rebound home to regain the Habs’ lead.
The lead was short-lived, as the Flyers scored less than a minute later. A breakdown by Montreal in the defensive zone left Kevin Hayes untouched in the slot. Hayes had all the time in the world, and he beat Kinkaid to tie the game at two apiece. Max Domi was called for roughing shortly after the goal, but the Habs had a great penalty kill to keep the game even.
Charles Hudon had a glorious chance to take the lead late in the period. He took the puck at his own blueline and was streaking down the left wing. He fired a high shot but Elliott stayed standing and got a piece of it to knock it out of play.
With under two minutes to go, another great individual effort by Armia resulted in two scoring chances. He forced Travis Sanheim to take a slashing penalty in the process. Jordan Weal had two close calls when passes came across to him in the left faceoff circle. Elliott turned him aside both times, and the Habs had about thirty seconds of power play time carry over to the third.
The Flyers silenced the building early in the third. Philadelphia came in 3 on 2 against the Habs, and a series of passes gave Travis Konecny the puck in the high slot. He fired it off the post and in to give the Flyers the lead.
Later on in the period, Lehkonen drew a tripping call on Provorov. On the power play, Nick Suzuki made an unbelievable deceptive pass. He fooled the four penalty killers, and the goalie, and sent it across the ice to Tomas Tatar. Tatar had a wide-open net and made no mistake to tie the game up.
Tatar had a great chance as the hat trick shortly after, when he was alone in front but was turned aside by Elliott. He was called for slashing on the same shift, sending Philadelphia to a key power play chance. The Habs had a great penalty kill and snuffed out the Flyers at centre ice to keep the game even.
The Habs pushed hard looking for the game winner but couldn’t find it and the game went to overtime. Domi, Petry and Armia started the extra session. However, it was Provorov who scored the winner in the opening minute as he cruised past Domi to give the Flyers the win.
After the game, the Canadiens announced that Victor Mete, who left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury, would not be accompanying the team to Boston for their game against the Bruins on Sunday night. He was seen leaving the arena on crutches.
HabsWorld Habs Three Stars
First Star – Joel Armia
Joel Armia was a force in this game. He was strong on the forecheck all game. He used his size to his advantage to wrestle away pucks from opponents and generated plenty of chances. He opened the scoring and could have easily had more as he was all around the net.
Stats: 1G, -1, 9 SOG, 22:03 TOI
Second Star – Tomas Tatar
Tatar was dangerous in this one. This showed in his two-goal performance. He came close to the hat trick on several occasions but couldn’t find that third goal. Tatar continues to be the Habs’ leading scorer.
Stats: 2G, -1, 4 SOG, 15:01 TOI
Third Star – Jesperi Kotkaniemi
Kotkaniemi looked much more physical, and a lot stronger this afternoon. He threw his weight around all night with several thunderous body checks. It is an encouraging sign that he is becoming more engaged.
Stats: -1, 5 hits, 15:48 TOI
Honourable Mention – Shea Weber
With Petry struggling mightily in this game, Weber was the stabilizing force on defence. He still managed a plus-2 rating along with his assist on the second goal.
Stats: 1A, +2, 3 SOG, 2 hits, 27:32 TOI