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Giroux instrumental as Flyers topple Canadiens

by Adam Kimelman
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers played one of their better periods of the season in the second period Friday against the Montreal Canadiens.
After the first period they had, they needed it.  
Claude Giroux scored twice and set up another goal in the second as the Flyers beat the visiting Montreal Canadiens 3-1.
Jakub Voracek had a goal and an assist, Braydon Coburn had a pair of assists and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 23 of 24 shots to win his second straight game.
The day wasn't a total victory, however, as before the game the Flyers learned they would be without forward James van Riemsdyk for 1-2 weeks with an upper-body injury, and then lost defenseman Andreas Lilja in the second period due to a high ankle sprain that will sideline him for approximately six weeks.
Petteri Nokelainen scored Montreal's lone goal and Carey Price stopped 33 shots.
The game turned in the second period, as the Flyers scored all three of their goals and enjoyed an 18 to five shot advantage.
"I think guys weren't ready or weren't focused, not sure what was the case," said Giroux. "At home I don't think we've played as well as we've wanted since the start of the season. Obviously the second and third we played the way we should have and took control of the game in the second."
After a first period that saw them trail 1-0 on Nokelainen's goal, turn the puck over five times and win just five of 13 faceoffs, the coach told them exactly what was missing from their game.
"Just too many turnovers," said Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette. "We were giving the puck, we weren't strong enough. We didn't play with the intent we needed, especially at home. We talked about home ice, making it a difficult place to play, and it didn't seem very difficult."
Giroux started making it harder on the Canadiens by scoring his 12th goal of the season to tie the game 1-1. He won a faceoff in the Montreal end, with the puck going back to Matt Carle at the left point. Carle dumped the puck back in behind the Montreal net, but as it caromed off the boards it came out the other side to Giroux -- stationed along the goal line to the left of the Montreal net – who banked the puck off Price's back and into the goal at 13:11 of the period.
Just over four minutes later, Giroux put on a puck-handling show, dancing around the Montreal end, dodging sticks and checks. He worked the puck back to Coburn, who flipped it deep for Kimmo Timonen. Timonen found Voracek in the bottom of the left circle for a rocket one-timer past Price for his first goal in eight games.
And then with 5.9 seconds left, Giroux struck again, one-timing the rebound of a Coburn shot past Price for his 13th of the season to make it 3-1.
"If I had to pick a few guys from the whole League, he's my top three," Timonen said. "He has been our best player by far. Every game he works hard, skates hard, making plays. … He's one of the better players in the League."
Even the opposition was impressed.
"I think he is a tremendous player," said Canadiens coach Jacques Martin. "I think he keeps getting better year after year. Now he has become a leader on this team."
Giroux, however, deflected the praise to Bobrovsky. After stopping all 23 shots he faced in two periods and overtime to earn the win Wednesday against the Islanders, he played another strong game against the Canadiens.
"I thought he was sharp," said Laviolette. "He handled the puck well, gave us an opportunity to win -- especially in the first period. The chances weren't heavy in their favor, we didn't have any to speak of. They had a few and he was sharp in making those."
Bobrovsky's best set of saves came in the third period, when he went post-to-post to deny Erik Cole with his left pad three times from point-blank range.
"Without Bob we're not even close to that game," said Giroux.
The Canadiens did have other chances, but it was five power plays that generated a total of just five shots that left them wondering what if.
"We need to start capitalizing on opportunities on the power play," said defenseman Josh Gorges. "I'm not going to sit here and criticize guys that are out there, but at the same time we need to get the job done. That was one of the areas that we need to better ourselves in. We didn't work the way we needed to in the second period. We lost some battles that were detrimental tonight and it ended up costing us the game."
While the Canadiens' power play struggled, their PK unit continued to shine. It denied the Flyers on five opportunities -- including a 5-on-3 Philadelphia advantage for 1:41 midway through the third period -- and now has killed off 40 straight, a span of 11 games, dating to their Nov. 5 game against the New York Rangers.
"It's definitely a part," said Canadiens captain Brian Gionta. "The special teams game is huge and that (penalty killing) is half of it. Now we just got to try and figure out how to get our power play back on track."
Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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