Philadelphia, PA – The Montreal Canadiens erased an early deficit and Jan Bulis scored four goals as the Flyers lost 5-3 at the Wachovia Center on Wednesday night.
With the game tied 3-3 entering the third period, Bulis netted his fourth goal of the night at 3:11 to give Montreal its first lead of the game, tipping in a pass from Niklas Sundstrom.
A turnover directly in front of the Flyers net by Simon Gagne led to an easy goal by Steve Begin at 8:40 to give the Canadiens a two-goal cushion as they beat Philadelphia for the second time in as many games this season.
"Overall we didn't play our game, this was a very bad game for us," said Gagne. "We got off to a good start, and then we gave them the chance to come back. In the second and third period we didn't compete."
"We made too many crucial mistakes at our blue lines and [gave up] far too many odd man rushes to win that game," said R.J. Umberger.
Philadelphia also suffered more bad news on the injury front, as Peter Forsberg left the game in the second period after re-aggravating his left groin, which kept him out of two games last week. Branko Radivojevic had to be helped off of the ice late in the third period after taking a spill into the boards behind the Montreal net and was unable to put any weight on his left leg.
"We had such a terrific start to the game," said Ken Hitchcock. "As soon as Peter went out, our whole energy just dropped right off the cliff. We've been able to recover all year on this but our energy went right down the tubes."
Philadelphia jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. First it was Gagne, who tipped in a perfect feed from Forsberg at 4:06. Gagne's 34th goal of the season is a new career high for the winger, eclipsing his total set during the 2001-02 season.
What appeared to be a harmless wrist shot by defenseman Freddy Meyer made its way through goaltender Cristobal Huet at 7:05, but Montreal, which entered the game having lost three in a row by a combined score of 16-7, cut the lead in half when Bulis's first goal on a breakaway at 8:17 after he got behind defenseman Chris Therien made it 2-1.
Philadelphia held Montreal to just five shots in the first period and none for the first six minutes of the second, but Bulis took a feed from Craig Rivet at 6:18 for a wrist shot that beat Robert Esche to tie the game.
Esche, playing in his second game back since missing over a month with a groin injury of his own, made 10 saves while Huet stopped 24 Flyers shots.
"I felt great actually. It was a real positive for my groin. I thought I was going to have to battle through another game like Pittsburgh, but I felt really good," said Esche. "We did give up a lot of scoring chances, but on the same hand a stronger game out of me could have at least gotten us to overtime if not win. I'm not enthused with giving up five goals ever. But I can take some positives out of it I guess."
The teams traded a couple more goals later as Petr Nedved's slap shot on a Flyers power play deflected off of Umberger at 13:21, but Bulis completed the hat trick on a tip-in with less than four minutes left to once again tie the game at the break.
With the assist on Umberger's goal, Nedved has a point in each of his first three games as a Flyer.
Philadelphia remains home to play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday (2:00 p.m., NBC).
FLYERS NOTES Alexandre Picard played in his second consecutive game as a Flyer, while defensemen Joni Pitkanen and Kim Johnsson remained on the shelf. … The Flyers are now 5-3-1 in their third jerseys. … This was the second of four meetings between the Flyers and Montreal this season. Philadelphia dropped the first decision on October 25 at the Bell Centre in overtime, 3-2. … The last time an opposing player had four goals against the Flyers was Mario Lemieux on March 20, 1993, in a 9-3 Penguins victory in Pittsburgh.