MONTREAL - They were leading for much of the first half of the contest, but the Canadiens couldn't hang on and dropped the first game of their weekend back-to-back 4-3 in overtime to the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon.
The Saturday afternoon affair was the perfect opportunity for the second annual Mascot Party hosted by Youppi! In attendance were the Flyers' Gritty, the San Jose Sharks' SJ Sharkie, the Anaheim Ducks' Wild Wing, and the New England Patriots' Pat Patriot.
Joel Armia didn't waste any time getting things going. Before the first whistle could be blown off the opening faceoff, Armia skated into the Flyers zone and wristed a shot which beat Philadelphia starter Brian Elliott to give Montreal a 1-0 lead just 0:19 into the game.
Neither team would add to the score in the opening frame, so that's where things stood after 20, with the Canadiens also leading 9-7 in shots.
The Flyers evened things up at the 7:47 mark of the second. With the Canadiens unable to clear it from the zone, Justin Braun picked up the puck and beat Keith Kinkaid with a wrist shot to make it 1-1.
But as has been their style of late, the Canadiens made a point of replying quickly. This time, it was Tomas Tatar who jammed home a rebound from Shea Weber's point shot to give the home side a 2-1 lead at 8:14 of the middle frame.
It was Tatar's eighth of the season. Weber earned a helper on the play, extending his points streak to four games.
Not to be outdone by their hosts, the Flyers answered with a goal of their own to bring the score to 2-2 just 0:45 later. Kevin Hayes accepted a hard pass from Joel Farabee at the hashmarks and wired it high and by Kinkaid to tie things up.
The Habs closed out the period with a man advantage. And despite some sustained pressure and a few quality scoring chances, they couldn't convert and the two teams headed to the room tied at 2-2 with 20 minutes to go. Montreal widened its lead in shots in the period, outshooting Philadelphia 19-12.
The Canadiens announced just prior to the start of the third that Victor Mete had left the game with a lower body injury and would not return.
Early in the final stanza, Travis Konecny finished a tic-tac-toe play and beat Kinkaid to give the Flyers their first advance of the afternoon.
Not long after, with Ivan Provorov in the box for tripping, Nick Suzuki fed Tatar with one of his trademark cross-ice passes. Tatar waited for a moment, picked his spot, and beat Elliott to make it a 3-3 game.
Jeff Petry had yet to collect an assist against the Flyers - the only team remaining on his checklist - but accomplished the feat with a helper on the power play marker.
Despite a late drive in the dying seconds, the Canadiens couldn't finish off the Flyers in regulation and the game would need to be decided in extra time.
Ivan Provorov would score the deciding goal in overtime to hand the win to Philadelphia.