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Habs edged by Flyers in shootout thriller

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens
Canadiens erase trio of two-goal deficits to earn crucial point in playoff hunt

Mike Ribeiro potted a pair against the Flyers for the second time this season and was also the author of the Canadiens' lone shootout goal.

PHILADELPHIA - In an edge-of-your-seat battle that saw the Canadiens fight back from a two-goal, third period deficit, it took a shootout for the Flyers to finally escape with a 5-4 victory Monday night at the Wachovia Center.

Despite trailing the Flyers by two goals on three separate occasions, the Canadiens (29-22-9) would not be denied and picked up a point as they remained unbeaten in regulation now four games into their six-game road swing. The Canadiens have now opened up a three-point lead on the Thrashers and a seven-point cushion over the Maple Leafs for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, while also moving to within a point of the seventh-place Lightning. The Flyers (34-18-10) snapped a four-game losing streak thanks to Petr Nedved's shootout clincher.

Having already seen the Flyers take 2-0 and 3-1 leads, the Canadiens found themselves trailing 4-2 with only five minutes to play in regulation. Mike Ribeiro and Sheldon Souray scored less than three minutes apart to force the extra frame.

On the heels of snapping a 15-game scoring drought Saturday in Tampa Bay, Ribeiro scored a pair of goals against the Flyers to bring his total to 13 on the season. Ribeiro's big night also saw him score the Canadiens only goal of the shootout. The 26-year-old center now has four two-goal games in 2005-06, including two against the Flyers, after potting a pair in a 3-2 overtime win at the Bell Centre back on Oct. 25.

Already off to a torrid start on this road trip, rookie Chris Higgins notched his 12th goal of the season. A runner-up for NHL Offensive Player of the Week honors, Higgins now has five goals in his last four games.

Cristobal Huet, who earned NHL Defensive Player of the Week honors earlier in the day, turned aside 24-of-28 shots to remain unbeaten in regulation over his last nine games (6-0-3). Huet stoned Simon Gagne and Mike Richards before being solved by Forsberg and Nedved in the shootout. After having blanked the Flyers 5-0 at the Bell Centre on Feb. 5 in their last meeting, Huet saw his shutout string against Philadelphia snapped at 118:33 when Forsberg pushed home a rebound at the 11:54 mark of the second period.

Robert Esche kicked aside 32-of-36 shots before stopping Alex Kovalev, Michael Ryder and Alexander Perezhogin in the shootout with Ribeiro being the only Canadiens shooter able to beat him.

Scoring goals for the Flyers were Forsberg, Eric Desjardins , R.J. Umberger and Joni Pitkanen.

Gunning for its first season-series sweep of the Flyers since back in 1976-77, Montreal was instead forced to settle for having picked up seven of a possible eight points versus Philadelphia in 2005-06.

The Canadiens packed up after the game and headed straight to Toronto for their matchup with the Maple Leafs Tuesday night at the Air Canada Centre.

NOTES:  For the fourth straight game on the road trip, Bob Gainey had the same 20 players in uniform, with Mark Streit, Niklas Sundstrom and Garth Murray looking on from the pressbox... The Canadiens picked up a point in the standings for the 15th time in their last 16 games (12-1-3) when a forward scores two goals in a game... The Canadiens are now 2-3 in shootouts while Philadelphia is 3-5 in the NHL's new  tie-breaking format... Tomas Plekanec left the game during the second period with an apparent shoulder injury.

am Player Result
MTL Alex Kovalev No goal
PHI Simon Gagne No goal
MTL Mike Ribeiro Goal
PHI Mike Richards No goal
MTL Michael Ryder No goal
PHI Peter Forsberg Goal
MTL Alexander Perezhogin No goal
PHI Petr Nedved Goal

Philadelphia wins the shootout 2-1.

Manny Almela is a writer for

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