Brendan Gallagher got his night off to a fast start, and the Canadiens never looked back.
Gallagher scored 58 seconds in, then scored twice more to collect his first career hat trick as the Canadiens downed the Flyers by a final of 5-1 on Thursday night from the Bell Centre. Just about nothing went the Flyers’ way as Carter Hart was pulled after allowing three goals on nine shots, and the Canadiens’ speed wreaked havoc on a Flyers defense playing without Radko Gudas as part of a two-game suspension.
Michael Raffl would tally the lone Flyers goal late in the third period to break the Carey Price shutout bid, though it would be far too little, too late for the Flyers on this night. Making matters worse was a Hurricanes win and a Sabres/Lightning game that earned the Sabres a point. Both are clubs the Flyers are chasing in the playoff race, as well as these very same Canadiens.
Safe to say, everything came up bad on this night for the Orange and Black.
Gallagher would get Montreal off to a fast start, starting the scoring to give the Canadiens a 1-0 lead just 58 seconds in. The 21st goal of the season for Gallagher was a wicked wrist shot, beating Carter Hart clean.
Not exactly the start Scott Gordon wanted in giving up a goal in the first minutes of a big road game in the standings.
Things would get worse quickly for the Flyers, as Jesperi Kotkaniemi would extend the lead to 2-0 on a quick developing odd-man rush in on Hart. Paul Byron setup the goal with a nifty move to beat a pair of Flyers at the blue line then slide a pass over to the rookie pivot, who made no mistake.
Tough look for our guy Travis Sanheim on this one, gang.
A Tomas Tatar penalty would give the Flyers a chance to get one back around the midway mark, but a James van Riemsdyk bid found iron and would chase the visitors away without putting a dent in the score sheet.
With 9:27 left in the first the Canadiens just kept pouring it on as Gallagher’s second of the night would make it 3-0. It was a seeing eye shot that just dribbled in through Hart’s pad and the post. It would be the last we’d see of Hart as he was relieved of his duties in favor of Brian Elliott.
Thankfully things would calm down after the Canadiens dispatched the Flyers’ prized rookie netminder. Though the blitz was over, the Flyers still weren’t offering much danger towards Carey Price’s net at the other end.
Already down Radko Gudas to suspension, scary moment for Robert Hagg late in the period as he got hit in the face by a Jeff Petry shot that deflected multiple times. That only added to the blood the Flyers had already spilled on the ice.
AFTER 20: Canadiens 3, Flyers 0
An early power play would give the Flyers another chance to pierce Price, but a pair of high-danger chances would not go for Wayne Simmonds and then Sean Couturier as the second unit got in on the act.
Gallagher would make the Flyers pay at the other end once again. His third of the night gave him his first career hat trick and made it 4-0 Canadiens just 2:56 into the second period as the floodgates were fully open at the Bell Centre.
Shaw to Gallagher for his third of the game. pic.twitter.com/PUX7anSvMQ— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 22, 2019
The goals would keep on coming for the Canadiens, with Tatar making it 5-0 with 13:12 left in the second. A slew of Flyers turnovers ended up with Tatar shaking away from Nolan Patrick and firing home a laser past Elliott.
Sometimes there just isn’t much to say, and the way the Canadiens were owning the Flyers through the first half of the game was pretty mind-numbing.
Late in the second a Flyers player would finally show some resolve as Elliott robbed Tatar with a huge glove save with 2:09 left in the period. The veteran is likely auditioning ahead of the trade deadline as the Flyers now have Hart and Cam Talbot both in the fold.
Hey, a positive! What a stop by Elliott. pic.twitter.com/AzRByLkPI3— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 22, 2019
The sad part was that Elliott appeared to use all of the good mojo as Scott Laughton had a golden chance to ruin the shutout at the other end, but was somehow denied by Price.
AFTER 40: Canadiens 5, Flyers 0
Claude Giroux setup Travis Konecny for a good look at Price early in the second, but the Montreal netminder flashed the leather on the rising shot to keep the Flyers scoreless. It was a quiet night for most Flyers, but another one for Giroux, now without points in four-straight games.
Next it was Wayne Simmonds’ chance to knife through the Canadiens defense, but his rising shot found the glass after a nifty move to break the blue line. Simmonds is, of course, a hot topic on the trade block as the trade deadline approaches. He has just four goals in his last 20 games.
With 9:37 left the Flyers would end Carey Price’s bid for a fourth shutout as Michael Raffl deflected home a Shayne Gostisbehere shot past the Montreal netminder to make it 5-1. It’s Raffl’s fifth goal of the season, and while cutting the lead to four might not seem like much it was at least something.
Raffl with the tip! pic.twitter.com/ihAx6MHUs0— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) February 22, 2019
That would be it for for the scoring as the Flyers suffer a painful road loss, and one that puts a dent in their slim playoff hopes. The Habs take it by a final of 5-1, the Flyers will be back at it with a date against the Penguins in the Stadium Series game from Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday.
Perhaps going outdoors will provide a different result for a Flyers team that now desperately needs one after being outscored 10-3 in their last two losses.