With snow beginning to make its first appearance, the Montreal Canadiens strolled into Philadelphia, fresh off what is arguably their biggest win of the season on Tuesday night. Montreal stunned the Boston Bruins with a game-winning goal courtesy of Ben Chiarot of all people. Winners of four of their previous five games, the Canadiens had their hands full with an always dangerous Flyers team that had recently claimed a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Carter Hart, who has faced struggles of his own, was in the net for Philadelphia, while the veteran Carey Price was looking to get back into the form he’s capable of after an off night on Tuesday. Thankfully for the Canadiens, both Jeff Petry and Brendan Gallagher were healthy after scares against Boston late in the third period. Claude Julien also returned the defensive pairs to their normal alignments, with Chiarot rejoining Petry, and Victor Mete sliding up alongside Shea Weber.
Unlike the Bruins game, the opening minutes against Philadelphia were more tentative, with the Canadiens unable to find a clean look on Hart. The same could be said for the Flyers, who had a number of chances blocked or broken up by the Canadiens’ defence. They were still able to generate the best chance of the opening period though, with Travis Konecny sneaking behind the defenders and forcing Price into a big glove save. The netminder had to be sharp to fight off the rebound chance as well, keeping the game scoreless as the first period approached the midway point.
The Flyers’ pressure allowed them to get on the board first, at the expense of a slight misplay by Ryan Poehling in his own end. A missed chance to get the puck out allowed Philippe Myers to float a shot past a screened Price to make it a 1-0 Flyers lead.
Price made up for the goal against almost immediately with a huge lunging save on a wide-open Sean Couturier, who had been left uncovered just outside the faceoff dot.
Carey Price with the huge cross-crease save. pic.twitter.com/nIIUwVfQ4s— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 8, 2019
It wasn’t the only time Price had to come up with a big stop before the period’s end. With the defensive coverage getting a bit lax around his net, he had to swim across and take away a shot from Jakub Voracek right on top of his crease.
Tomas Tatar’s penalty struggles continued as he took a late minor for slashing, handing the Flyers a chance to put an exclamation point on the period, but Montreal escaped the first lucky to be trailing by just one goal.
They did not survive the first minute of the second period, however. As soon as Tatar’s minor ended, a shot from Claude Giroux pinballed around in front of the net and James van Riemsdyk had no issue firing home his fourth of the year.
Things continued to spiral from there, as Tatar was dinged for another penalty, and before his could expire, Artturi Lehkonen was whistled for tripping up Shayne Gostisbehere. If not for the incredible reflexes of Price, the score line could have easily gotten far out of hand, as Philadelphia swarmed Montreal all over their zone.
The offence finally repaid some of what they owed Price late in the second period, with a newly shuffled first line doing the damage. Nick Cousins joined the line with Phillip Danault and Brendan Gallagher, making an instant impact. His shot caromed off Hart’s pads, and the man in the right spot at the right time was Ben Chiarot, who had started the whole play off in his own end. Chiarot jumped on the rebound and ripped it top shelf to cut the Flyers’ lead in half.
Penalties again threatened to derail the Canadiens’ momentum after the goal, with Lehkonen heading back to the box after he chopped through Voracek’s stick. The penalty-killers stood firm, and even with Nate Thompson losing his man in the dying seconds, it was again Price shutting the door as the horn signaled the second intermission.
Almost improbably the Canadiens found another goal early in the third period. Joel Armia cut off a Flyers defender behind Hart’s net and Jonathan Drouin picked out a charging Shea Weber through the slot. While his pass was slightly off, Weber somehow rifled it into the top corner of the net tying the game up for Montreal.
Then, potentially due to the line-shuffling, the Canadiens were called for too many men, sending on the suddenly stalwart penalty kill for their biggest moment of the game. They stood tall again, with Lehkonen making up for his earlier errors and reading a handful of plays well to get the puck out of the zone and killing off another Flyers power play.
A questionable icing call forced the Canadiens back out for a faceoff, and thanks to the protests of Claude Giroux for the team’s time-wasting, Montreal was dinged for delay of game.
The penalty-killing units continued to do everything they could to fend off the relentless Flyers power play, killing off the bench minor and shifting the play back to five-on-five again — at least momentarily. Shea Weber hooked Carsen Twarynski on a breakaway chance, giving the rookie a penalty shot. Twarynski attacked slowly, giving Price all the time in the world to get set and deny him with ease on his attempt.
With some missed calls and errant passes in the final minutes, it seemed that Montreal was destined to lose in regulation, but a defiant Price kept his team in the game, and stole at least one point as the game headed into overtime.
There was not another overtime miracle to be had, sadly, as Couturier’s shot found the smallest gap and trickled in behind Price to win the game for the Flyers by a 3-2 final.
Despite the all-world showing from Price and a mostly undeserved point, the Canadiens will have to move on, as the Los Angeles Kings await them on Saturday night.