The gains from a solid December felt like a distant memory after the Philadelphia Flyers traveled west to California and dropped three straight after Christmas. But a strong performance against a contending Montreal Canadiens squad could be just what they needed to erase the effects of their disappointing trek.
Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn and Shayne Gostisbehere led the way as the Flyers took control in the second period and earned a victory over Montreal, winning by a score of 4-3. Schenn potted a goal and added two assists, while Couturier and Gostisbehere both finished with a goal and an assist of their own. Michal Neuvirth faced only 24 shots and stopped 21 of them.
Slow starts have plagued the Flyers in recent weeks, but it would not be an issue tonight. A slick puck retrieval by Sean Couturier in the defensive zone sent Brayden Schenn on a breakaway. Schenn would not squander the opportunity, flipping a shot past Montreal goalie Ben Scrivens to give the Flyers an early 1-0 lead.
But despite flurries of pressure from Philadelphia, they were unable to extend their lead and Montreal made them pay with six minutes remaining in the period. R.J. Umberger blocked a Mark Barberio shot from the point, but Barberio was able to recover while Umberger lost sight of the puck. On the ensuing shot, Alex Galchenyuk was able to deflect it past Neuvirth to tie the game at one-all.
A late push from the Giroux line proved fruitless, but the Flyers were able to goad Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry into a holding penalty, ensuring that Philadelphia would enter the second period on the man advantage. Still, the score would remain tied at 1-1 at the first intermission.
The Flyers would ultimately fail to score on their power play to start the second period, though Couturier did test Scrivens with a tough wrister from the high faceoff circle. But Couturier was not destined to give Philadelphia back the lead - that task would fall upon rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. Just minutes later, Gostisbehere unleashed a slapshot from the point that found its way past Scrivens to put the Flyers back on top.
Gostisbehere wasn't finished. With time winding down on a P.K. Subban hooking penalty, Ghost ripped another slapper at Scrivens, and Wayne Simmonds was able to deflect it by the beleaguered goaltender to open up a 3-1 lead. With the Flyers leading by two goals and outshooting Montreal 22-7, it appeared that they were on track for a rare comfortable victory.
Two penalties by Ryan White gave the Canadiens new life. While Philadelphia killed off the initial White infraction, they struggled to clear the zone at the conclusion of the power play. As a result, the Flyers were in scramble mode defensively even after briefly getting the puck out of the zone following an extended cycle. Montreal took full advantage, as Brendan Gallagher tipped an Alexei Emelin shot by Neuvirth to make it a one-goal game once more. White then took a second penalty - this time a boarding call against Mark Barberio - to allow Montreal to open the third period with a power play, just as Philadelphia began the second period with a man advantage of their own.
Montreal's start-of-period power play would prove fruitless, however, even if play remained tilted in the vistors' direction. Luckily for the Flyers, Sean Couturier was able to create some breathing room for his team. Pouncing on a Nick Schultz shot from the point that went wide, Couturier was able to corral the loose puck and beat Scrivens to the left post, making the score 4-2. A late goal by Daniel Carr after Montreal had pulled Scrivens would close the gap to 4-3, but that would be all the Canadiens could muster, as the Flyers earned their first win of 2016.
Comment of the Night:
I keep thinking that I am going to look up and realize that I am just drunk and the Habs are actually the team dominating play…