PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers made late comebacks their specialty last season. Now it appears they've rediscovered that mindset.
Wayne Simmonds and Erik Gustafsson scored 90 seconds apart late in the third period as the Flyers rallied for a 5-3 victory Wednesday against the visiting Montreal Canadiens.
Simon Gagne and Jakub Voracek each had a goal and an assist, and Sean Couturier snapped a 27-game goal drought as the Flyers extended their win streak to a season-best three games.
The victory moved the Flyers up to 11th in the Eastern Conference, four points behind the eighth-place New Jersey Devils. They play again Thursday at the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"Every game now from this point on is really big for us," Gagne said. "Doesn't matter if we've won two in a row, three in a row, four in a row -- every game is going to be big."
David Desharnais and Alexei Emelin each had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, and Brandon Prust had a goal. The loss snapped the Canadiens' three-game win streak.
The Canadiens also lost center Tomas Plekanec to a groin injury. Coach Michel Therrien said Plekanec, who is tied for the team lead with 13 goals, is day-to-day. The Canadiens have a quick turnaround, as they’ll host the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.
Montreal looked to be in control after getting goals 20 seconds apart late in the second period to take a 3-2 lead, but Simmonds and Gustafsson scored in quick order to lead the Philadelphia comeback.
At 14:54, Bruno Gervais' shot from the right circle hit Simmonds' right skate in the slot and went past Canadiens goalie Carey Price.
A minute-and-a-half later, Gustafsson took a pass from Claude Giroux, skated deep into the Montreal end, faked a shot and threw the puck in front, where it bounced off Canadiens defenseman Francis Bouillon into the net.
Voracek closed the scoring with an empty-net goal in the final minute.
"I guess you take them any way you can when you're down going into that period," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said of the ugly goals. "I think it's kind of just rewards, too. I thought our guys did a terrific job in the second and third periods. We sealed things up defensively after the first, we were able to generate a lot more in the second and third. Good that you start throwing pucks at the net [and] it's good to see some results for it."
It also marked the second straight game, and third time in the past four, the Flyers have come back from a third-period deficit to at least earn a point.
"I don't think we had that drive at the start of the season," Brayden Schenn said. "We wouldn't quit, but we didn't have that drive like the past couple of games here. That's a good sign. We're fighting to the end and battling for a playoff spot."
"It's something I think we had a lot of last year, being down one or two goals," added Matt Read. "We called ourselves the comeback kids last year. We're kind of back on that same page. You play with confidence [and] when you're down one or two goals you just fight back. … The comeback kids win again tonight."
The Canadiens looked to have made their own comeback when Prust and Desharnais scored seconds apart late in the second to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead.
Jeff Halpern forced a turnover just outside the Philadelphia zone, with the puck rolling to rookie Alex Galchenyuk, who started a 3-on-2 rush down the left side of the Flyers' end. Galchenyuk centered the puck for Halpern, who slid it on his backhand to Prust, and his shot along the ice went under the glove of Ilya Bryzgalov at 16:29 to tie the game.
Seconds later, Desharnais' odd goal gave Montreal a 3-2 lead. His shot from the right circle hit Schenn's stick and rose up as it headed toward Bryzgalov. The goalie ducked and the puck fluttered over his head and into the net at 16:49.
But that was as good as it would get for the Canadiens, who despite scoring twice, had just four shots in the second period, and added just two in the third.
"We just didn’t match their intensity, it's just that simple," Therrien said. "They deserved to win; when you generate six shots on net in the second and third periods you won't win many games. They just deserved to win tonight. … As soon as we lost Plekanec, it seemed that we lost our focus and weren't capable to get it back."
Alexei Emelin gave the Canadiens a 1-0 lead at 13:13 of the first period when his shot from the blue line went through a screen by Brendan Gallagher and past Bryzgalov. It was Emelin's third goal of the season, but first in 11 games.
The Flyers tied the game early in the second on Couturier's first goal in more than two months. The second-year center, who had 13 goals last season, scored his third – this one in unorthodox fashion. He had the puck down low in the Montreal end and threw a hard-angle shot on net that hit Price's arm and then bounced off the left leg of Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban and into the net at 4:47.
The goal snapped a 27-game drought for Couturier, dating to Jan. 27.
"It's good for the confidence to get the monkey off the back," Couturier said. "It's been a while and it's nice to find the back of the net."
Gagne gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead when he scored his third of the season at 15:43 of the second. Luke Schenn fired a shot from the right point that went wide of the Montreal goal, but banged hard off the end boards to Gagne, who was on the post on the far side and scored from in close before Price could react.
"It was good work by our line," Gagne said. "There was good cycling of the puck and keeping the puck on the wall. I got a lucky rebound from the board right onto my tape. I think Carey Price was looking at the other side, so I had a pretty-much open net. It was a lucky bounce, but I'll take it."
Flyers rookie defenseman Oliver Lauridsen, in his third NHL game, picked up an assist on the goal for his first NHL point.