Montreal Canadiens vs. Philadelphia Flyers
How to watch
Start time: 7:30 PM EST / 4:30 PM PST
In the Canadiens region: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Flyers region: NBCSP
Elsewhere: NHL.tv / Rogers NHL Live
While a recent road trip was unsuccessful for the Canadiens, dealt losses by the Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Florida Panthers, they’ve given the Bell Centre fans plenty of cheer about over the last month. The team’s play at home is helping to keep them in the playoff conversation, earning at least a point in their last seven games as host.
Despite going up two goals early in their first game in Montreal since February 9, the Canadiens were tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets in the third period of Tuesday’s game. A great play from Jordie Benn to find Tomas Tatar through a series of bodies and sticks allowed the Canadiens to reclaim the lead, and go on to get themselves back in the win column. It was an important win to fend off a few teams battling with them for wild-card spots; a list that includes those Blue Jackets.
Now the Habs face another team with an eye on the tract of land they’re occupying. The Philadelphia Flyers are getting the goaltending that has been missing from the organization for decades, and they’re climbing from near the bottom of the Eastern Conference to get within range of a spot in the post-season.
Tale of the Tape
|53.9% (4th)||Corsi-for pct.||49.5% (15th)|
|2.95 (16th)||Goals per game||2.93 (17th)|
|2.93 (13th)||Goals against per game||3.33 (26th)|
|12.7% (30th)||PP%||17.3% (21st)|
|79.6% (20th)||PK%||76.9% (27th)|
The Canadiens’ home point streak could be sitting at 10 if not for the play of Carter Hart, who earned the last regulation win for a visiting netminder in Montreal since January 7. It was the sixth win of the rookie goaltender’s career, and part of an eight-game winning streak he enjoyed.
On January 19, he turned aside 29 of the 31 shots he faced, being the most busy in a first period when he was the only player on his team engagaed in the contest. Montreal launched 28 pucks in his direction in the opening 20 minutes, with the scoring chance count at 15-3 in a one-sided frame. Yet Hart held his composure and survived the barrage, allowing his teammates to find their legs and heading back home with a 4-2 decision added to his career resume.
A good game for the visitors, it was a frustrating defeat that ended a four-game winning streak for Montreal. Fortunately, the result didn’t derail their play, as the Canadiens went on to win the next game they played.
Max Domi was one of two Habs skaters to put a puck past Hart in the first meeting of the season, and he enters tonight’s game with his offensive game clicking along once again. Already with a new career high in goals after tallying twice versus the Panthers, Domi added yet another early goal versus Columbus to bring his season total to 20. He’s tied the best production from his first three NHL seasons, and has another 22 games to build upon his 52 points.
Tonight should also be a rare time when the Canadiens have their best 18 skaters on the bench. With no injuries at the NHL level, and Phillip Danault now Phillip Sr. after the birth of his son, the Canadiens have their full complement ready to welcome the Flyers tonight.
In Danault’s absence, the coaching staf was able to get a look at new acquisition Nate Thompson in a different role, and they had to like what they saw. Taking only one faceoff in the offensive zone at even strength (Jesperi Kotkaniemi was often taking his place for offensive draws), he still finished with a positive shot-attempt and scoring-chance differential. He’s yet to get a point in four games with his new team, and with a high of 11 in his previous five season there likely won’t be many of those, but with his speed, defensive skill, and a recent display of his versatiliy, he’s promising to be a good addition to a team whose search for a dependable fourth line dates back nearly as far as the Flyers’ need for a solid performer between the pipes.
Back in a more familiar role, Thompson will probably be seeing a lot of Claude Giroux in tonight game. The centreman is scoring above a point-per-game pace for the second consecutive season after several off years, leading the Flyers with 61 points. He’s getting help from Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier in the mad dash for a playoff berth, but most of his teammates are averaging less than half a point per game. The Flyers were able to get scoring from lower in the lineup, including two of Nolan Patrick’s 12 goals on the season, in the first meeting. but the focus should remain on the top two trios if the Canadiens want to prevent the Flyers from snapping another one of their streaks.