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Flyers vs. Canadiens recap: We finally have a first line!

The Flyers' first line gets it done, dealing a solid beating to the Canadiens.

Bruce Bennett

The Flyers bounced back after last night's ugly loss, getting a much needed win over the indisputably better Canadiens.

Let's get the obvious out of the way. Danny Briere got a warm ovation from the crowd at Wells Fargo Center, blah blah blah. Danny had some nice things to say about us, and it's just so darn cute that the feeling is mutual.

OK, now the game.

Tonight we saw Michael Raffl get bumped up to the first line to take the place of Scott Hartnell. Seems like that was a good call on Berube's part -- Raffl worked hard on the forecheck to generate chances, cleared a few pucks on the penalty kill, and had visible chemistry with his new linemates. Oh yeah, and he had an absolute beauty of a goal off a Jake Voracek feed to give the Flyers the all-important first tally of the game.

All in all, the Flyers had a very solid first period. They out-chanced, out-shot, and out-possessed the crap out of the game -- just pure domination. Every line contributed (in a good way!), something we haven't been able to say lately. I'm going to credit that with Jay Rosehill's absence, but more on that later.

The second period started with Montreal coming hot out of the gate. Within a few minutes they erased the shot deficit, and it really looked like the Flyers were about to (yet again) blow a game after leading in the first. But despite sloppy play filled with turnovers, the Flyers won the period. The lone goal came off a snipe from Claude Giroux after a crisp feed from -- you guessed it -- Jake Voracek.

The Canadiens almost got on the board midway in the third after Brian Gionta batted a puck into the net with his glove, but the goal was immediately -- and correctly -- waved off. Alex Galchenyuk finally eeked out a goal with one minute left in the game, but the Flyers held the Habs at bay and grabbed a well-deserved victory.

A few notes:

*Holy crap we have a first line again. Injecting Raffl into that top left-wing spot with Giroux and Voracek really did wonders -- all three notched points tonight, generated a ton of chances, and just looked solid. Hopefully that continues, as we've had problems assembling a viable top three all season.

*Jay Rosehill was scratched in favor of newly-aquired Chris VandeVelde, and BOY was it nice. Rosehill is, well, a terrible hockey player, and with VandeVelde, the fourth line seemed vastly improved. It's nice to see them getting things done instead of being an outright liability. Side note: can we make VandeVelde Industries a thing?

*Erik Gustafsson took the place of Andrej Meszaros on the third defensive pairing. It's tough to say that he made a big impact, but I don't remember screaming at him through my television, so that's an improvement over the Meszaros we saw in Chicago.

*Steve Mason put up a solid performance tonight, stopping 20 of 21 shots. That one goal wasn't entirely his fault, either. Seems that at least for now, he's handling adversity pretty well.

Next game is Sunday in Washington at 3:00 p.m. Go Flyers!

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