Almost five weeks ago, a road win over the Montreal Canadiens spurred the Philadelphia Flyers to their longest winning streak of the season. A victory at the Bell Centre their next time out will help them to another such run.
The Flyers pursue a sixth consecutive victory on Thursday night, when they visit a Canadiens team seeking to avoid a season-high four-game slide.
Philadelphia (17-7-6) had dropped four of five entering its Nov. 15 matchup at Montreal (16-9-5), but goals from Scottie Upshall and Jeff Carter powered the Flyers to a 2-1 victory and triggered a season-high six-game winning streak.
With Tuesday's 5-2 win over Colorado, the Flyers are in position to match that run. Captain Mike Richards and Simon Gagne each had a goal and two assists to help surging Philadelphia improve to an NHL-best 12-1-2 since that victory over Montreal.
"We're playing with a lot of confidence right now," said Richards, tied with Gagne for the team lead with 37 points. "When you play with confidence, you think you can win every game."
That feat seemed nearly impossible as the Flyers went winless in their first six games (0-3-3) this season. Philadelphia has high expectations in 2008-09 following a run to last season's Eastern Conference finals, where it was eventually eliminated by Stanley Cup runner-up Pittsburgh.
Richards has been one of the key figures in the Flyers' resurgence, collecting seven goals and eight assists during a season high-tying eight-game point streak.
"At the beginning of the year we weren't doing a whole lot of things right," Richards told the Flyers' official Web site. "We were just getting outworked. Now we are starting to work a little bit harder and we are getting some bounces and the wins are coming."
One area in which Philadelphia has been consistent is its power play. Second in the league in converting 27.0 percent of their man-advantage chances, the Flyers are 9-for-20 in the last four games and 16-for-41 in the past nine.
That success could to extend into Thursday's game if the Canadiens continue to play undisciplined. Montreal was whistled for a season-high 11 penalties and gave up three power-play goals en route to its third straight loss, 3-2 at Carolina on Tuesday.
"I really don't want to talk about it," frustrated Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. "You guys saw the game. You can write or say whatever you want to say about it. I'd rather not talk about it."
Alex Kovalev scored a short-handed goal to snap a 19-game scoring drought, while Guillaume Latendresse connected on a penalty shot for the Canadiens, who look to prevent their first four-game losing streak since Feb. 27-March 8, 2007.
Montreal hopes to avoid tying that mark with backup Jaroslav Halak in net. Carey Price has been sidelined by a lower-body injury the last four games, and Halak has compiled a 2.27 goals-against average in that span. He took the November loss to the Flyers, stopping 29 of 31 shots.
Antero Niittymaki is expected to make his second consecutive start for Philadelphia. He made 29 saves Tuesday as Martin Biron sat out with the flu.
Niittymaki boasts a 2.34 GAA in winning a career high-tying five straight starts. However, he has allowed 17 goals on 138 shots in losing five in a row to Montreal.
Kovalev, second on the Canadiens with 23 points, has 26 goals and 52 points in 67 career games versus Philadelphia.