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Flyers vs. Canadiens recap: Three in a row, finally

The Flyers needed a late-game comeback but still thoroughly outplayed the second-best team in the Eastern Conference over the game's final two periods.

Claude happy. Claude fist pump.
Claude happy. Claude fist pump.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

So this still isn't over, huh?

In their current four-game point streak (which now, for the first time this season, includes a three-game winning streak), the Flyers have been trailing late in the third period in three of those games. Be it due to bad defense or bad goaltending or bad discipline, it's been happening a lot. And in those last couple of third-period comebacks, it seems like the team wasn't able to really kick it up a notch until they could kinda sense that they had to.

But tonight wasn't like that. Tonight, against the second-best team in the Eastern Conference, the Flyers absolutely dominated the play in the game's final 40 minutes, to the tune of a 26-6 advantage in shots on goal. Sure, the Canadiens managed to snag a 3-2 lead thanks to 20 seconds of questionable defense and goaltending late in the second period. But the zone time, following a pretty slow first period, pretty clearly was shifted towards Montreal's end of the ice for most of that time, thanks to some dumb penalties as well as just some really solid play by the Flyers at evens.

And hey, we didn't even need the super-late, last-secnod heroics this time. An ugly goal from Hartnell to Simmonds tied it up with 5:06 left, and 90 seconds later some absolutely ridiculous patience by Erik Gustafsson gave the Flyers a lead that they wouldn't relinquish. Finally, strong play over the last 40 minutes paid off.

I'm guessing somewhere between David Desharnais' go-ahead goal late in the second period and Simmonds' equalizer in the third, most of us were probably creeping back towards the yep-it's-over-we-suck-again mentality that we've all become very familiar with this year. And I'm also guessing that some of us are mentally hedging our bets a bit right now because, like we said on Sunday, the Flyers have had some good stretches already this year and they're usually followed up by other stretches of crap.

But who knows. The Flyers' playoff odds are now up to 13.9%, via Sportsclubstats, and while that's still pretty gloomy it's a lot more than I'd have expected at this time even a week ago. Paul Holmgren didn't really sell off anyone today, so it sure looks like they're gonna try and make a run for it here, and they're taking us all for the ride whether they get there or not.

Oh, and a reminder that this came without three of the team's five best defensemen. Even if they aren't great, dammit if they ain't trying.


* Seriously, does anything warm your heart more than French-Canadian Flyers forwards scoring goals against Montreal? Sean Couturier and Simon Gagne both scored for the first time in a while tonight and it made me very happy.

* Couturier, speaking of, looked great tonight. Maybe it's that whole hey-no-more-trade-rumors-every-16-seconds thing, but he looked solid as usual defensively against a very nice group of forwards over there in Montreal. The goal was fluky as hell, bouncing off Subban's skate and into the net, but they all count the same.

* Ilya Bryzgalov did not exactly have his finest stretch of hockey late in the second period, as he didn't get over quick enough on the second goal and then did this on the third one, via CBS Sports' Eye on Hockey:


That, uh, didn't look too good. Thank God the Flyers won, because as Travis noted during the game if they'd lost a game where he did that on top of all the news from today with Mason and Holmgren's quotes it'd have been so, so bad tomorrow.

* Zac Rinaldo and his old pal Brandon Prust got in a fight in the second period. I didn't have the CSN feed tonight but apparently Rinaldo said something funny to Prust during it so if anyone's got the mic'd up clip from that I'll put it in here. Simmonds and Travis Moen got in a fight literally two seconds before that one, as well.

* On a similar note, Claude Giroux became the second Flyers top-line forward in as many games to head to the box in the third period for a bout of pugilism, this one with Lars Eller. I was a two-minute coincidental roughing call, so whatever, but it was during a power play, which made it kind of stupid of Claude to take himself off the ice for two minutes. But hey, good thing we've got Jay Rosehill to protect Claude in the future, right?

* Erik Gustafsson apparently was given the game-winning goal, and while I initially thought it was an assist, I do know for sure that it was really pretty and you should go watch it 800 times or so. Holy crap, nice move.

* The Flyers' PP lost a five-game goal streak, which was sad, and they did look all out of sorts at times. The PK did manage to stifle Montreal's PP to an identical tune of 0/3, so special teams weren't all bad.

* Lastly, because it wouldn't be a Flyers game without an injury update, Rinaldo left mid-game with a lower body injury and didn't return. Apparently Lisa Hillary of CSN reported that he was seen in a walking boot after the game and probably won't be with the team tomorrow, so get excited for the beginning of the Rosehill era.

Questions with Answers:

  1. P.K. Subban's gonna do something that makes us wish the Flyers had tried to trade for/offersheet him, isn't he? Drew a penalty, or something like that, and was good as per usual possession-wise. Oh, and he scored a goal for the Flyers. Knew he was destined to be here.
  2. If Jay Rosehill is in the lineup, does he do anything remotely of note? If he's not, and Tye McGinn is, how does he look replacing Max Talbot in the lineup? McGinn was fine. Didn't stick out a lot either way, I suppose.
  3. Defense. After a surprisingly good weekend, is this the day it falls apart? 17 shots against against a strong possession team like the Canadiens is very, very good. Three goals against is not. But again, for the third straight game, it could've been worse.
  4. After a couple of days of rest, and following some generally solid play for him of late, can Ilya Bryzgalov outduel Carey Price? Not even close, but HEY WHO CARES HE WON
  5. The Flyers got something from almost every line last Sunday. Who sticks out this time? 19/10/17 was great, and actually I kinda loved the Fedotenko line's game, too.
  6. Sean Couturier is (a) still a Flyer and (b) on a two-game point streak following his recent scoring drought. Make it three? Yep! A goal, even! He's great, and he's ALL OURS.

Comment of the Night:

It's easy to criticize, but we're seeing this from our universe...

-- flyersfaninchicago, referring to Bryz's duck-and-goal

Recap from Montreal via Habs EOTP. Back at it tomorrow night in Toronto at 7. Four in a row for the first time all season? Who knows. Go Flyers.