The Philadelphia Flyers
continue to prove game after game just how deep and talented they really are.
With management announcing during the first period that captain Chris Pronger
would miss the rest of the season and playoffs with a concussion, the Flyers went and won their seventh straight game by beating the Montreal Canadiens
4-3 on Thursday night -- providing more assurance the team may be able to overcome the loss of its captain.
Coach Peter Laviolette wanted to make absolutely certain that the bad news on Pronger did nothing to cloud the fact his team won a tough game in which the Canadiens came back to tie the score three times.
"Let's separate the two, I think that's important," Laviolette said. "That was not an easy game tonight, those guys deserve a ton of credit for the way they competed. That should not be taken lightly."
Surprise starter Sergei Bobrovsky
made 28 saves and the Flyers (20-7-3) got goals from Maxime Talbot
, Harry Zolnierczyk
, Wayne Simmonds
and Andrej Meszaros
, who scored the winner at 8:08 of the third period.
"That team just refuses to lose," Laviolette said, pointing towards the Flyers dressing room. "Their attitude and dedication to winning was just awesome. It's just awesome."
Local product and 2009 first-round draft pick Louis Leblanc
scored the first goal of his career for the Canadiens (13-12-7) at 13:24 of the second period, producing a roar of approval from the 21,273 at the Bell Centre.
An atmosphere like that has been rare this season in a building where the Habs now own a 5-6-6 record.
"It was incredible," Leblanc said. "I'm going to remember that goal my whole life. The reaction and support of the crowd was incredible. I went through a bit of the same thing when I got drafted (at the Bell Centre in 2009) but it's been a long time since I've experienced something like that."
and Erik Cole
scored the other goals while Carey Price
made 21 saves in goal for Montreal.
"We were battling back and forth, but obviously we need to do some things better," defenseman Hal Gill
said. "Games like that are fun to play; unfortunately we came out on the wrong end of it."
Both teams played the game missing key elements.
In addition to Pronger, the Flyers were also missing the NHL's leading scorer Claude Giroux
and rookie Brayden Schenn
– both of whom are also out with concussions.
For Montreal, captain Brian Gionta
missed his third game with a lower body injury and Travis Moen
missed a first game with a lower body injury. Long-term Canadiens casualties include center Scott Gomez
and defenseman Andrei Markov
Both Simmonds and Cole extended their goal scoring streaks to four games, and Simmonds has scored in five of his last six games as well. But Scott Hartnell
saw his own goal streak come to an end at six games.
With the game tied 3-3 in the third, Meszaros put the Flyers ahead on a point shot that snuck through Price's pads, one the Montreal goaltender would likely want another shot at.
A holding penalty to Talbot with 2:31 remaining gave the Canadiens a great opportunity to tie the game, but they managed just two shots on goal to finish the game 1-for-9 with the man advantage.
The Flyers opened the scoring on Talbot's ninth of the season at 12:07 of the first and the Canadiens squandered an excellent opportunity to tie it before the first intermission. Handed a 5-on-3 power play for 1:40, the Canadiens were unable to capitalize, though a Tomas Plekanec
goal was waved off because Cole interfered with Bobrovsky at 18:09.
The second period saw a flurry of five goals, and surprisingly three of them were by the low-scoring Canadiens.
Desharnais got his fifth of the season at 5:02 to tie it, but Zolnierczyk gave the Flyers the lead right back at 5:48 with his second of the season.
Leblanc blew the roof off the Bell Centre at 13:24 when he tied it again, but Simmonds scored at 18:10 with a great individual effort for his ninth of the season.
Finally Cole tied it up a third time for Montreal with his team-leading 12th of the season and fifth on the power play with 15.5 seconds left in the second period to make it 3-3.