The Montreal Canadiens played with desperation during their Tuesday night game against the Philadelphia Flyers, and they were rewarded with a 3-1 victory at the Wells Fargo Center for their efforts. Carey Price made 32 saves in the Canadiens’ win, while Brendan Gallagher, Shea Weber, and Max Domi picked up the three goals.
With the Canadiens fighting for their lives every game and knowing that a loss to the Flyers could be the final nail in the coffin, the offence had no choice but to make their presence known in the first period. Though it ended with the Canadiens only being up by one, they could have been leading the Flyers 3-0 after 20 minutes of play.
Brett Kulak nearly opened the scoring for the Canadiens just three minutes into the game with a slapshot that beat Carter Hart but not frame of the net behind him, with the ‘ping’ of rubber hitting the crossbar signalling that the game was still tied.
Shortly after Kulak hit iron, the Flyers benefited from a quick whistle from referee T.J. Luxmore — the same referee who gave Artturi Lehkonen an embellishment penalty that erased a goal for the Canadiens in their December 15 game against the Ottawa Senators— as Hart never had control of the puck and yet the whistle blew, which led to the Canadiens’ goal on the play being denied.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi also came close to a goal in the first period by cutting to the net and sneaking by Shayne Gostisbehere, but Hart made the save.
Ultimately, Gallagher was the only one to officially find the back of the net in the period, as he took Tomas Tatar’s rebound from the slot and netted his 31st of the season with a minute and a half remaining in the opening frame. The Canadiens were also leading 11-8 in shots on goal by the end of first.
Though the Flyers sent 16 of their 33 shots on Carey Price in the second, it was the Canadiens who added to the scoreboard in the period, with captain Weber’s 12th of the season coming from a blast from the point less than five minutes into the second frame. Domi picked up the primary assist on the play and Andrew Shaw the secondary, though Shaw was screening Hart and prevented him from seeing the shot before it was too late.
Price was approximately 12 minutes away from a shutout when the first penalty of the game was called against Montreal’s Christian Folin, which led to the Flyers bringing themselves back to within one and breaking the shutout. Price made the first two saves on the play, but Sean Couturier took advantage of having an extra player on the ice to pounce on the third rebound and score his 30th of the season to make it 2-1.
However, with Hart — who made 33 saves in his team’s loss — on the bench in favour of the extra attacker, Domi out-hustled both of Philadelphia’s defencemen with a minute left to pick up a puck that Shaw dumped in the zone to secure Montreal’s victory with an empty-net goal.
With their win and a loss in Calgary by the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Canadiens have moved to within a point of the final wild-card spot. The Habs will need to break their recent form and string some wins together to put themselves in position to finish ahead at the end of the season. Montreal goes for consecutive wins on Thursday when they host the New York Islanders.