All around the NHL, teams are suiting up for 'Hockey Fights Cancer', a great initiative that helps raise much-needed funds for cancer-related charities. The Montreal Canadiens invited some youngsters into the dressing room and onto the ice pre-game to mingle with their hockey heros.
Following a disappointing loss on Friday night, the lines were switched up, promoting the smiling assassin, Artturi Lehkonen, to the top line alongside Alex Galchenyuk and Alexander Radulov. Tomas Plekanec also slotted in beside Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher, making for a pretty potent top-six.
Just one minute into the game, a redirect by Andrei Markov got the Canadiens on the board first.
Moments later, and right off of a faceoff in the defensive zone, Chris VandeVelde knocked one home and just like that, the game was tied .
Not to be out-done, Travis Konecny capitalized on a turnover at the blue line, barely missing the open net. Undetered, Konecny passed the puck to Shane Gostisbehere, who made no mistake in securing the Flyers' second of the game.
However, the Habs weren't about to take that lying down. Andrew Shaw and Paul Byron came right back and caused a little havoc in front of Michal Neuvirth. In the chaos, Byron knocked the puck back to Greg Pateryn, who in turn tied the game on a nifty wrist shot.
At the end of a back and forth first period, shots were 9-8 for Philadelphia and the game was tied at two.
The Canadiens had a slow start to the second period, taking 14 minutes to register their first shot, despite having a power play. Price, as usual, was the main story, looking unstoppable, and saving the Habs' dignity while he was at it.
With just over a minute left in the second, Radulov and Galchenyuk produced some of their signature magic when Radulov slid a phenomenal pass through traffic and Galchenyuk hit the open net. At the end of a sluggish second, the Habs were up 3-2 and Price was making a convincing case for a post-game pizza all to himself.
As they entered the third period, all I could say is thankfully the fourth line showed up. Torrey Mitchell intercepted the puck behind the Flyers' net, and got it out front to Phillip Danault, who gave the Habs their fourth goal of the game.
Unfortunately, thereafter, Shaw got a double minor against Gostisbehere, and Claude Giroux capitalized on the man advantage.
While still fighting off the double minor, Price made a save, kicking the puck out to Pacioretty, who rimmed it around the boards to Plekanec. Plekanec jumped on the puck and finally scored his first of the season on the breakaway -- shorthanded, because of course Plekanec's slump buster had to be stylish.
His goal put the Habs up 5-3, but of course the Canadiens had to keep things interesting.
Mitchell got called for holding with just over four minutes to go. Following a little tic-tac-toe action, Konecny tipped one past Price, putting the Flyers within one.
The Canadiens managed to squeak out of this one, coming out on top 5-4, despite being out-played and out-shot 38-17.
- About Radulov...I'm a big, big fan.
- The Canadiens' defense looked like lost puppies for much of the game. Markov and Weber had some dangerous turnovers in the defensive zone, forcing Price to come up big.
- The veterans needed to step up following the 10 goal loss to Columbus. While it wasn't 60 minutes of 'pretty', Markov had a goal and an assist, and Plekanec finally broke his slump.
- The reality is that the Canadiens desperately need their spark back. Their uninspired play is cause for concern.