MONTREAL -- It appears as though the Philadelphia Flyers are about to show just how desperate a team they are in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Montreal Canadiens.
After suffering their worst defeat of the playoffs in Game 3 on Thursday, 5-1, the Flyers will have regular-season goal-scoring leader Jeff Carter and penalty-killing specialist Ian Laperriere back in the lineup on Saturday afternoon at Bell Centre.
Carter will replace Daniel Carcillo in the lineup and might play wing alongside center Mike Richards and Simon Gagne. Laperriere will replace Andreas Nodl in the lineup and likely assume his normal role on the fourth line with center Blair Betts and Darroll Powe.
Carter, who led the team in goals during the regular season with 33, has two goals and an assist in four playoff games. Laperriere, arguably the team's best penalty-killer, has one assist in five games.
During Friday's practice at Bell Centre, Laperriere skated with authority on a line with Powe and Betts, leaving little doubt he'd return to the lineup following a 10-game absence. Laperriere suffered a brain contusion on April 22 after going down to block a shot in the third period of Game 5 against the New Jersey Devils. He's been skating with the team ever since being cleared for contact by doctors on Monday.
The addition of Carter to the lineup was a bit of a surprise. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound forward skated for 15 minutes on his own at the Flyers' practice facility on Monday -- his first skate since having a plate inserted on the shaft of the metatarsal of his second toe on his right foot just 29 days ago. He was expected to be sidelined up to six weeks.
Carter was injured in Game 4 against the Devils on April 20 when he was hit by a Chris Pronger slap shot. Both Carter and Laperriere were thought to be lost for the season.
"I don't think anyone was expecting Cartsy to skate this early when they were talking about six weeks," Gagne said. "We were kind of looking at maybe if we go to Stanley Cup Final, but not in the third round. Seeing him skate is definitely great news and we're very happy for him."
Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren told the media on Sunday that "it would be a stretch" to see Carter play at any stage of this third-round series against the Canadiens.
The return of Laperriere will undoubtedly provide an inspirational boost.
"He's a big part of the team," Gagne said. "He's a character player. He's a role guy that at this time of the season is really important. He's a guy that's going to do everything for his teammates. He's going to block shots, we all know that, and he's going to be physical. He's going to be tough to play against."
Danny Briere, who is tied for the team-lead in scoring (18 points) with Mike Richards, feels getting "Lappy" back in the lineup will certainly provide a spark.
"Just his presence, a veteran presence in the locker room," Briere said. "He's a guy who is very energetic in the dressing room, as much as on the ice, to get us going, to get us pumped up.
"We all know what he does. He's tough to play against. He's a great penalty killer and brings a lot of energy and finishes his checks. He's one of those guys that, at the end of the night, might not have a couple goals and a couple of assists, but he does a lot of little things right that helps out your team."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale