It appears the Montreal Canadiens have a goaltending controversy on their hands.
Backup David Aebischer is expected to start when the Canadiens wrap up a season-opening three-game road trip against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday at the Wachovia Center.
In a 3-2 win over Toronto on Saturday, Aebischer gave up a goal to Mats Sundin at the start of the shootout before stopping Kyle Wellwood, Darcy Tucker and Alexei Ponikarovsky. Michael Ryder scored the game-winner for Montreal in the fourth round, handing new coach Guy Carbonneau his first win.
"David played extremely well in Toronto and he deserves another start," Carbonneau said. "We'll see if things change over the next few weeks and months, but right now we truly have a goalie No. 1A and B situation on our hands."
Cristobal Huet, after a breakout season, was expected to be the clear-cut starter for Montreal (1-1-0). Huet lead the league with .929 save percentage and was second with seven shutouts in just 36 games, including 33 starts.
But in his season debut Friday against Buffalo, Huet gave up goals to Daniel Briere and Maxim Afinogenov in the final 4:44 of regulation. He then allowed shootout tallies to Afinogenov and Thomas Vanek in the 5-4 loss.
"When you have a 4-2 lead and less than five (minutes) to go, you don't come up with two points, it's very disappointing," said Montreal's Saku Koivu.
The Canadiens won three of four meetings from Philadelphia (1-1-1) last season mostly behind Huet, who was 2-1 with a 2.27 goals-against average, including a 25-save shutout in a 5-0 victory on Feb. 5. Ryder recorded his only career hat trick in that contest.
Playing for Colorado, Aebsicher was victorious in his only start last season against Philadelphia. He was acquired by the Canadiens on March 8 for former Hart and Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender Jose Theodore.
Montreal opens its home schedule Saturday against Northeast Division rival Ottawa.
The Flyers picked up their first win of the season, beating the New York Rangers 4-2 on Wednesday for a split of their home-and-home series. Philadelphia went to the 13th round of a shootout before losing 5-4 on Saturday.
New captain Peter Forsberg had a goal and two assists in the win, and pinned the first loss of the season on their Atlantic Division rivals.
"We wanted to show that we wanted to win tonight. We know these are big games. We have to battle these guys all year," said Forsberg, who has only two goals but 23 assists in 18 career games against the Canadiens.
Simon Gagne, a 47-goal scorer last year, tallied his third in two games in the win. He only had a goal and two assists in against Montreal last season with all three points coming at home.
Antero Niittymaki made 25 saves Tuesday for his first win of the season, but an ailing hip may keep him on the bench for this contest.
That means Robert Esche would make his first start since a 17-save effort in a 4-0 loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday in his season debut. Esche was 1-1 with a 4.35 GAA and a .824 save percentage in two home starts against the Canadiens last season.