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After beating Buffalo on Monday, the Habs looked to make it three straight wins on Tuesday in Philadelphia.  It was tied for most of the game but the Flyers scored twice late to secure the 3-2 victory.

Montreal made a pair of lineup changes for this one.  Sean Farrell made his NHL debut in place of Kirby Dach who was a late scratch due to an upper-body injury.  It was originally Chris Tierney that was supposed to sit.  Meanwhile, between the pipes, Cayden Primeau made his first start of the season after being recalled Monday night.  The team lined up as follows:

Harvey-Pinard – Suzuki – Hoffman
Farrell – Drouin – Gurianov
Ylonen – Evans – Gallagher
Pezzetta – Tierney – Belzile

Matheson – Savard
Edmundson – Barron
Harris – Kovacevic

Both teams had a few shots in the first five minutes of the game although none were of the particularly dangerous variety.  Philadelphia had the first strong chance at the 5:30 mark when Kevin Hayes got around Johnathan Kovacevic, allowing him to drive the net.  He tried to go five-hole on Primeau but didn’t get much of a chance.

It took until nine minutes left for Montreal to get what would really be classified as a good scoring chance.  Jake Evans drove the zone and dropped it for Brendan Gallagher in the middle of the ice.  Gallagher fired a shot that got past Felix Sandstrom but not the crossbar.

Five minutes later, Nick Suzuki had an opportunity for a slot shot off a setup from Mike Hoffman.  However, his one-timer went wide.  That was pretty much it for quality opportunities for the Habs.

Meanwhile, the Flyers had a good one late as Travis Sanheim drove the net with 15 seconds left.  However, Rafael Harvey-Pinard hustled back to break up the play before Sanheim was able to get off much of a shot and the period ended the way it started.  The Canadiens held the shot advantage at 14-8 which might imply that there were some entertaining moments but the scoring chances were few and far between.  The whistles, on the other hand, were plentiful with 22 in total.

The second period was considerably more eventful.  It began with Denis Gurianov taking a tripping penalty that should have gone to Farrell who tripped Morgan Frost 99 seconds in, sending the worst power play in the league (yes, there’s a team below Montreal in that department) to the man advantage.

You wouldn’t have known they were that poor on the power play as the Flyers zipped it around.  Harvey-Pinard blocked a shot partway through, hobbling him.  Philadelphia took advantage and eventually set up a play.  Hayes skated behind the net and then threaded a cross-ice pass to Frost who beat Primeau short-side just as the penalty ended.

A couple of minutes later, Frost was in on a two-on-one with Brendan Lemieux.  He waited too long for the perfect pass without getting off a shot.  However, there was some calamity after that which nearly resulted in a goal with Primeau scrambling to get back into position.  Seconds later, Joel Farabee sent a centring feed to Nick Seeler whose redirection got past Primeau but Kovacevic was there to pull it off the goal line.

A minute later, Tierney broke up a pass in the defensive zone and got around his check, creating a two-on-one.  He passed it over to Michael Pezzetta who beat Sandstrom but not the post.  Two shifts later, Wade Allison was sprung on a breakaway but Primeau made the stop to keep it a one-goal game.

That was crucial as 40 seconds later, the Habs capitalized.  Justin Barron’s point shot was blocked by Scott Laughton.  However, Laughton passed the puck to the slot, right to Gallagher and the veteran fired it high and in for his third goal in as many games, capping off a busy first half of the period.

The second half of the period was anything but as play settled down.  Harvey-Pinard was able to return after missing a few shifts and had a chance in front on a scramble play with three minutes left.

A minute later, Mike Matheson turned the puck over to Kieffer Bellows in Montreal’s zone.  He dove to break up what would have been a fairly clean break to the net but tripped Bellows in the process, giving the Flyers a late power play.  Tony DeAngelo hit the crossbar halfway in but that’s as close as they got.  The period ended tied at one apiece with Philadelphia holding a 12-11 shot advantage.

The third period was a lot like the first, just with fewer shots.  Montreal had one good chance four minutes in when Suzuki sent a pass to the slot for David Savard.  The blueliner opted not to go for the shot, instead sending it to Harvey-Pinard at the right faceoff dot but his one-timer was easily stopped.

There was a stretch of 9:59 between whistles.  Shots in that stretch were few and far between as the play, in general, was quite timid.  It looked like neither team had much in the tank.  That’s somewhat understandable for the Habs who were on a road back-to-back but the Flyers were off since Saturday.

However, the home side eventually broke free.  Barron drove the net in the offensive zone but was stopped and Philadelphia came back in transition on a two-on-one.  Frost kept the puck and skated to the slot before wristing one past Primeau with 2:15 to go.

St. Louis opted to pull Primeau with 1:53 left on an offensive zone faceoff.  Pulling a goalie without having control has burned the Canadiens in the past this season and it did so again.  The Habs actually won the draw but it got past Matheson at the point, going back to the Montreal end.  He tried to backhand a cross-ice pass but it was easily picked off by Tippett who fired home the empty-netter.

That goal actually proved to be important as the Habs didn’t cave.  With 25 seconds left, Jesse Ylonen sent the puck toward the net.  It caught Jake Evans before bouncing right to an open Harvey-Pinard who buried it to make it an interesting finish although Montreal couldn’t get the late equalizer.  Shots in the final frame were 7-6 for the Flyers.

HW Habs 3 Stars

1st Star: Rafael Harvey-Pinard – The goal was a nice sweetener at the end but this game was an example of how he can contribute without needing to play on the first line.  The hustle was there, he drove the net, he blocked shots, and played an energetic style.  Those are all elements that he can provide even without scoring at an unrealistic shooting percentage.

Stats: 1 goal, -2 rating, 3 shots, 2 blocks, 16:44 TOI

2nd Star: Cayden Primeau – It wasn’t pretty at times as Primeau clearly looked nervous on several occasions but he played through it.  He stopped a couple of solo rushes and helped keep it close before being beaten on a solid shot from Frost late.  They’ll take that type of effort from any goaltender and the fact it was Primeau providing it is at least a little encouraging.

Stats: 2 GA on 26 shots, 2.04 GAA, .923 SV%

3rd Star: Brendan Gallagher – I don’t think this is the beginning of Gallagher returning to the form of the past where he was a consistent scorer.  (I’d be happy to be proven wrong on that, mind you.)  But he clearly looks healthy now and the edge that he plays with is certainly showing since he returned to the lineup and Montreal is certainly a better team when this version of Gallagher is in the lineup.

Stats: 1 goal, even rating, 4 shots, 14:54 TOI

Honourable Mention: Jesse Ylonen – This wasn’t his flashiest performance but it’s the type of one that will make it hard for him to sit.  It was more about the smart plays including just getting it toward the net with less than a minute to go.  His line (with Evans and Gallagher) is starting to show some chemistry.  It’s an odd mixture with three right-shot players but hey, whatever works.  Ylonen is a complementary type of player and he is a quality complementary piece on this trio.

Stats: 1 assist, +1 rating, 1 shot, 12:42 TOI