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Flyers rally to beat Habs

by Mike G. Morreale
PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk is the first to admit he might not have been in the greatest of moods when his parents recently paid a visit.
A big reason might have been the fact he was still pressing for his first goal of the season and, on top of that, was listed a healthy scratch for four games earlier this month. But, through it all, Philadelphia's second-overall draft pick in 2007 never lost hope.
On Monday, van Riemsdyk was finally rewarded when he connected for his first of the season 7:42 into the third period to cap a furious rally that gave Philadelphia a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens before 19,753 at Wells Fargo Center.
In addition to van Riemsdyk's heroics, veteran goalie Brian Boucher pitched in another stellar effort behind 29 saves, including 11 in the third period. It marked the second straight victory for Boucher, who claimed a 5-4 shootout decision over the Capitals on Saturday.
"It's been a while and sometimes you forget how great it feels to score a goal," an elated van Riemsdyk told reporters after the game. "It felt great. Now I just have to keep this roll going and keep playing well."
The triumph moved the Flyers into a first-place tie with the Capitals in the Eastern Conference with 30 points.
Van Riemsdyk received his chance after gathering a pass from defenseman Braydon Coburn in the right circle before slamming a shot past Canadiens keeper Carey Price, who was splendid in defeat with 41 saves.
Flyers captain Mike Richards, who has centered van Riemsdyk and Andreas Nodl the last two games, was glad to see the Middletown, N.J., native finally notch his first of the season.
"He's been working hard in practice, off the ice," Richards said. "He's hit some posts, hit some cross bars and it's nice to see him get a bounce."
The Flyers spotted the Canadiens a 2-0 lead before storming back for three straight en route to their second straight victory. The clinching goal was the first in 23 games for van Riemsdyk, dating back to last April 1.
"To score in a game that your team wins means so much more and we really wanted to focus on making sure we came out better after that first period (when the Flyers were outshot, 15-9)," van Riemsdyk said. "It drives you crazy. You can ask my parents and brother and they'd probably say I wasn't fun to be around recently. So it feels good to get that one."
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette knows how hard van Riemsdyk has worked and was glad to see him rewarded.
"I think a lot of times confidence plays into it," Laviolette said. "I always think that the process leads to good results. When you're skating, and you're physical, and you're on the puck, and your work ethic is high, good things happen and you can start to gain some confidence from that. I said after last game, just watching him in his first couple shifts, I really liked the way he played and I moved him up right away with Richie (Mike Richards). After the first period tonight, as a group, we got going and he got going as well. His legs got going under him and he was physical and he was able to generate."
Claude Giroux's 12th goal of the season pulled the Flyers into 2-2 tie 1:48 into the third.
"Anytime you win a game like that, it's always more fun," Giroux said. "Anytime you got to work really hard to get that win, especially at the end of the game. You just feel (happier) about yourself because you know you did everything. Our guys are pretty happy right now."
The Flyers solved Price for the first time this season at 14:53 of the second when Ville Leino's shot from between the circles beat the Montreal goalie over his left glove. It was Philadelphia's 27th shot of the game and the 68th on Price spanning two contests. Price made 41 saves in a 3-0 victory over the Flyers at Bell Centre back on Nov. 16.
Montreal was probably lucky to be holding a 2-1 lead entering the third as Price was called upon to stop 20 shots in the second, including those aimed high, low and right between the eyes. Matt Carle's blistering shot from the point at the 1:22 mark of the second got up on Price and hit him square on the face mask. But a shot that would have probably shaken Price last year, didn't faze a more poised player in 2010-11.
"Carey [Price] was outstanding again," Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said. "He gave us a chance to win the hockey game."
He'd stop a Scott Hartnell deflection from close range, turn away Zherdev's wrist shot from the left circle and somehow deny Leino's backhand jam at the right post with his left pad in that middle period. Carle also fired a slap shot that hit Price above the Canadiens' crest and off the goal post at the 7:39 mark for good measure.
Meanwhile, Boucher was certainly holding his own at the other end. The 33-year-old turned aside 13 shots in the opening period when the Canadiens outshot the Flyers, 15-9.
"It feels good," Boucher said. "That's what my job is, so when I get tapped on the shoulder to play, I try to do my best and give my team a chance. Tonight they stayed with it and we got the two points.
Despite the fact Boucher yielded two strange goals in the opening period, he still made several big saves to keep the Flyers within reach when it seemed the Canadiens were on the verge of blowing the game wide open. Maxim Lapierre scored his first of two goals 11:51 into the first when he fired a harmless-looking wrist shot from the Flyers blue line that beat Boucher along the ice just inside the right post. Flyers defenseman Sean O'Donnell, who attempted to block the shot, may have provided a screen on the play.
He'd make it 2-0 at 16:07 when he gathered a pass from Benoit Pouliot at the right hash and released a shot that deflected off the stick of defenseman Andrej Meszaros in the slot past Boucher.
Boucher was quick to laud van Riemsdyk for finally breaking through in the clutch.
"It's been a tough go for him here," Boucher said. "After a good year last year, I'm sure he wanted to come in here and have a good start and things haven't quite gone his way. But he's been working hard and he's a good kid. We all believe in him. It's just a matter of him getting that confidence back and to score a big goal, the game winner, should boost his confidence."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mike_morreale
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