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Habs trail series 3-1 after Philly loss

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Daniel Briere scored the winner on a rebound with 3:38 left to lift Philadelphia to a 4-2 win over the Canadiens on Wednesday night and a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Flyers, the worst team in the NHL last season, can eliminate the top-seeded Canadiens in Game 5 on Saturday night in Montreal.

The Canadiens gave Philadelphia a scare when Tomas Plekanec and Saku Koviu tied the score at 2 on goals 37 seconds apart late in the third period.

Briere's eighth goal of the postseason was enough to send the Flyers to Montreal with a chance to win the series.

R.J. Umberger scored into an empty net in the final seconds, his second goal of the game.

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Martin Biron was strong again in goal for the Flyers except for that one minute in the third period and had 36 saves. In his first postseason as a starter, Biron proved again he's capable of carrying the Flyers into May - and possibly beyond.

The Canadiens, though, gave him a scare late in the game. Plekanec spoiled the shutout with a deflection into the net and Koivu knocked in a rebound that tied the score and silenced the rowdy crowd.

Briere saved them again, this time on the power play.

He found an opening in the corner against Jaroslav Halak and slid the rebound past the rookie for the winner.

The Flyers want to avoid a repeat of their first-round series against Washington, when they took a 3-1 lead and didn't clinch until a Game 7 overtime victory.

Coach Guy Carbonneau hoped a goalie switch would get the Canadiens going in this series. He benched Carey Price and started Halak for the first time. It didn't work.

The 20-year-old Price has an .853 save percentage in the last three games, but was outstanding in the regular season and in a first-round victory over Boston.

The Canadiens sent pending free-agent Cristobal Huet to Washington at the trade deadline for a draft pick, trusting Price to become the No. 1 goalie.

Price was pulled after he allowed three goals in the first two periods of Philadelphia's 3-2 Game 3 victory. Halak, who played the third period in Game 3, hadn't started since March 29 at Toronto.

No Montreal goalie has stopped Umberger. He scored in all four games of this series, and has a point in six straight games dating to the first round against Washington. Not a bad stat line for a wing who started the postseason on the fourth line.

Umberger had some help in the second period from Briere, the Flyers' leading postseason goal scorer. Briere fed Umberger a sharp, cross-ice pass to the left circle and he beat Halak on the short side to make it 1-0 early in the second. Umberger has six goals this series.

Scottie Upshall made it 2-0 early in the third when he pounded home Vaclav Prospal's shot that bounced off the post. Prospal set up the goal when he intercepted Bryan Smolinki's pass in front of Philadelphia's bench.

The Flyers have scored the first two goals of the game in all four games of the series.

The Flyers took two shots in the first two minutes of the game, then barely got near Halak. The Flyers put little pressure on him, taking only seven shots in the opening period. He did knock away their best attempt when he stopped Jeff Carter on a short-handed breakaway attempt about six minutes into the first.

Biron snared Andrei Markov's shot with 17 seconds left on a Montreal power play, the first of several tough saves he made over the next two periods.

Notes: Flyers F Mike Knuble was in the lineup for the first time since injuring a hamstring in Game 5 against the Capitals. The Flyers scratched F Steve Downie. ... Former Flyers G Ron Hextall sent a videotaped message of support. ... Canadiens D Patrice Brisebois played after missing two games with a leg injury.

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