PHILADELPHIA -- Just when it looked like the Montreal Canadiens had the Philadelphia Flyers on the run, they tripped themselves up.
Or rather, they tripped the Flyers three times in a span of 3:26 in the third period, after the Canadiens had trimmed two goals off a 3-0 second-intermission deficit. With 5:26 minutes of continuous penalty killing, including a pair of 5-on-3s, the Canadiens' momentum dissipated and Philadelphia held on to win by a 3-2 final score.
"The last 10 minutes of a game, you want to be fresh, getting your opportunities and changing the momentum of the game," Canadiens right wing Brian Gionta said. "Unfortunately, we took a lot of penalties. We showed a lot of character killing them off and still had a chance at the end."
The Flyers moved into sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings, one point ahead of the Canadiens and two ahead of the eighth-place Boston Bruins and the ninth-place Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Flyers beat the Canadiens at the Wachovia Center for the first time since March 6, 2006. They had been 0-5-1 at home against Montreal. It was also the first time in six regular-season games that they had beaten Canadiens goalie Carey Price.
The win puts the Flyers in position to sweep their second home-and-home series this week. They defeated the New Jersey Devils Monday in Philadelphia and Wednesday in Newark. They play the Canadiens Saturday night in Montreal in the final game before the NHL's two-week Olympic break.
The Flyers scored first for the 18th time in their past 24 games when Jeff Carter shoveled the puck past Price at 18:14 of the first period. Price had just made a big save on a hard Carter shot and another on Carter's stuff attempt. Scott Hartnell was also digging at the puck in the crease and Price complained that Hartnell had pushed him into the net.
"I know the puck was loose but when I get pushed into the net, I can't make a save," Price said. "I can see (the referee's) point. … He wears the stripes, so I lose."
Carter scored again on a 45-foot snap shot through Price's legs at 1:17 of the second period, nine seconds after Scott Gomez's first-period hooking call expired. Hartnell and defenseman Braydon Coburn assisted.
"I'd like to have that one back," Price said. "I thought I had it there."
The Flyers increased their lead to 3-0 at 3:17 of the second when Matt Carle's soft shot from the left point deflected off Canadiens defenseman Ryan O'Byrne's skate. Price was screened by Arron Asham. It was Carle's first game-winning goal of the season and the seventh of his six-year NHL career.
"The puck came up the wall and I kind of got in trouble," Carle said. "I was just trying to get it through there, hoping for a bounce or a tip. I got a good bounce."
"Just the breaks of the game," Price said. "Everybody was trying to do their best to keep the puck out of the net. Sometimes, when you're thinking that way, it happens when you have a reflex reaction."
"It hit off O'Byrne's skate and went in," Asham said. "It was a big goal for us. We came out flat in the third and it cost us a couple of goals. We got two points and now we're thinking about tomorrow's game."
The Canadiens drew within a goal by scoring twice early in the third period. First, former Flyers center Glen Metropolit stuffed in a shot off rookie defenseman PK Subban's dump-in at 2:05. Dominic Moore, playing his first Canadiens game since Thursday's trade from the Florida Panthers, deflected Roman Hamrlik's point shot at 3:01.
"We just weren't initiating enough in the first two periods," Gionta said. "We got a couple of bounces there but we have to find a way to come out a little quicker."
Subban was whistled for tripping at 4:13 and Moore followed him at 5:44. The Canadiens were five seconds from killing both penalties when Sergei Kostitsyn tripped Mike Richards. The Canadiens killed those penalties and resumed their domination but Flyers coach Peter Laviolette called a time out at 10:17 after a long shift that produced an icing call.
"Those guys were gassed," Laviolette said. "We got away from our game a little bit. We had a tough bounce on that first goal and they gained some momentum from it. Then they ran around for about three, four shifts in a row. During that time out, we had to get back and keep the game simple, without turning it over. Most importantly, those guys were on the ice for well over a minute."
The Canadiens scattered six shots over the final 9:43, but none were great threats -- although Leighton made two big saves, including Tom Pyatt's stuff attempt with 2:07 left in the game, to preserve the victory.
Leighton won his third-straight game and improved to 11-3-1 with the Flyers. He was playing in place of Ray Emery, who has been shut down for three weeks in hopes a hip injury heals.
Subban was a late replacement for Andrei Markov, who was scratched just before game time. The Canadiens may have lost another defenseman, Jaroslav Spacek, who was driven hard into the end boards by Darroll Powe with 58 seconds remaining. Powe was given a five-minute boarding penalty and a game misconduct.
The Canadiens were infuriated by the hit on Spacek. The players on the ice scrapped after the final buzzer. Scott Gomez picked up a roughing penalty while Kimmo Timonen got two minutes for roughing and a misconduct.