(Philadelphia, PA, October 11, 2006) – Michael Ryder scored a goal just 38 seconds into the game and David Aebischer made 27 saves as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center on Wednesday night, 3-1.
Leading 1-0 after the first period on Ryder's goal, the Canadiens made it a 2-0 game in the second period when Tomas Plekanec found Alex Kovalev in the circle and Kovalev's wrist shot went high over the glove of Antero Niittymaki at 6:18.
Philadelphia had about a minute of time with the two-man advantage late in the period, but could not get the equalizer despite time in the offensive zone. The closest the Flyers came was when Petr Nedved hit the post on a rebound attempt.
Philadelphia was not without its chances later in the period, but R.J. Umberger slid the puck just wide of the post on a two-on-one rush with Jeff Carter, and Aebischer smothered a deflection by Kyle Calder in front of the net with about three minutes left.
Umberger finally put Philadelphia on the board, when he lifted in a loose puck in the crease at 1:51, but that was all Aebischer would allow. He made key saves on Carter, sliding across the crease on a two-on-one with about 14 minutes left, and then got some help from a backchecking Sergei Samsonov who knocked the puck away from Mike Knuble charging the net after Carter backhanded as pass through the slot on an odd-man rush.
Philadelphia went on the power play with 1:53 left in regulation, its eighth man advantage of the game, but the only result was an empty-net goal by Montreal's Chris Higgins to seal the game.
"It is a little frustrating to not put the puck in the net. We created a lot of chances, but just didn't bury anything," said Mike Richards.
The Flyers finished 0-for-8 on the power play and were 4-for-4 killing penalties.
Niittymaki made his third straight start in net, and was strong in allowing two goals on 22 shots. His sprawling left pad save on Mathieu Dandenault shortly after Umberger's goal kept the game 2-1 at the time.
"He is playing great," said Hitchcock. "That is what we talked about at the start of the year. Whoever is playing well we've got to go with. He's playing terrific."
Not only was it Niittymaki's third straight start, but his second in two nights as the Flyers defeated the New York Rangers Tuesday night. It didn't seem to faze the Finland native.
"I felt fine. I used to play those in the minors, so it is not a big deal," said Niittymaki.
The four-game season series between the Flyers and Canadiens will continue in Montreal on November 25.
Philadelphia begins a four-game road trip on Saturday in New Jersey (7:30 p.m., Comcast SportsNet). The trip also takes them to Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Florida. The next home game is on October 26 against Atlanta.
FLYERS NOTES Boyd Kane was a healthy scratch for the Flyers, while forward Riley Cote was reassigned to the Phantoms earlier in the day. The Flyers are now 38-21-16-1 against Montreal all time at home.