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Montreal Defeats Flyers, 4-2

by Staff Writer / Philadelphia Flyers
(Philadelphia, PA, January 11) – Chris Higgins broke a 2-2 tie with a second period goal and Michael Ryder added insurance in the third, as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Philadelphia Flyers at the Wachovia Center on Thursday night, 4-2.

With the game tied after the first, Higgins deflected a shot by Francis Bouillon at 8:17 for the only goal of the second period.

Ryder's wrist shot to the top corner of the net on the power play past the glove of Antero Niittymaki at 7:10 of the third period capped the scoring.

The Flyers have lost their last five games and last seven at home.

Philadelphia had a great opportunity later in the third to get back into the game with 1:43 of time with a two-man advantage on an extended power play including Bouillon in the box for four minutes on a high-sticking double minor. The Flyers' best scoring chance came with Joni Pitkanen fired a slap shot from the slot that rang off of the post.

"You want to shoot the puck on the power play and you want to get pucks to the net and I thought we created the looks that we wanted to," said John Stevens, despite the team not getting a goal. "We just need to start finishing on those opportunities and put pucks in the net and not chase the hockey game."

"Going into the third period we had our chances," added Mike Knuble, whose holding the stick penalty led to Ryder's goal.

Three goals in less than a minute in the first period resulted in Montreal holding a 2-1 lead.

First, Mike Johnson stayed with the rebound of a shot by Higgins and beat Niittymaki at the five-minute mark.

Just 25 seconds later, Jeff Carter deflected a wrist shot from just inside the blue line by Alexei Zhitnik for his fourth goal of the season. The 1-1 tie did not last long, though, when Alex Kovalev was left alone at the side of the net and slid in a feed from the point by Andrei Markov at 5:55.

Philadelphia tied it up soon after on the power play, though, when Peter Forsberg found Pitkanen cutting to the net from the point, and Pitkanen redirected the puck through the legs of goaltender David Aebischer at 7:51. It was Pitkanen's first goal of the year to go along with his 21 assists.

"I thought we played pretty decently the first two periods," said Forsberg. "I thought we had a lot of chances on net and in the second period we were in the game. Unfortunately, we fall a little short all the time."

The assist by Forsberg leaves him two shy of 600 for his career, an NHL milestone. The Flyers' captain returned to the lineup after missing the last four games with a right groin strain, and played in his first home game since November 29.

The Flyers remain home on Saturday, when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins in a nationally televised game on NBC (2:00 p.m., 610 WIP).

Former defenseman Eric Desjardins was honored by the team in a pregame ceremony. … Eric Meloche, Jussi Timonen and Stefan Ruzicka were reassigned to the Phantoms earlier in the day. … Goaltender Michael Leighton, claimed off of waivers from Nashville, will arrive in Philadelphia tomorrow and is expected to be at practice. … Simon Gagne left the game in the third period with an apparent ankle injury after blocking a shot, but later returned. … The Flyers fell to 1-24-1 when allowing the first goal of the game.
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