-- Jose Theodore's steady play has the Montreal Canadiens
rising in the standings and thinking about first place in the Eastern Conference.
Theodore made 22 saves, and Richard Zednik scored two power-play goals to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
"I think I am playing the same way. It just seems lately that we are playing better as a team," Theodore said.
Jan Bulis had one goal, and Michael Ryder added a goal and two assists for the Canadiens, who won for the fourth time in five games (4-0-1) and have only one loss since Dec. 27.
Theodore was never really threatened but he made a nice stick save off a one-timer by Simon Gagne midway through the second period. He lost his shutout when Gagne scored with 1:18 left.
Theodore is 12-4-5 in his last 21 starts.
"I think we played one our best games all season," Theodore said.
The Canadiens (24-16-6) are only five points behind Toronto for first place in both the Northeast Division and the Eastern Conference.
"Today I was watching the other teams and everybody was winning," Zednik said. "Before I was looking behind, but now we're getting closer and closer. We have big games ahead of us."
Montreal changed its offensive approach against a Flyers defensive corps ravaged by injury.
"We kept putting the puck in deep. We wanted to make sure we took advantage of a depleted defensive corps," Montreal coach Claude Julien said. "I think that was the key."
The Flyers addressed their concerns before the game, acquiring defenseman Danny Markov from the Carolina Hurricanes for right wing Justin Williams. Markov was in the starting lineup.
"I was a little bit shocked, but I know it's part of the business," Markov said of the deal. "Nothing surprises me anymore in the NHL. I try not to think about it. I try just to concentrate on my game and play."
Dennis Seidenberg is out at least three months with a broken left leg, Eric Desjardins will miss at least two months with a broken right forearm, and Marcus Ragnarsson will miss up to two weeks because of a sprained left rotator cuff.
It got worse Tuesday when another Flyers defenseman, Jim Vandermeer, was forced out late in the first period when he separated his right shoulder while being checked hard into the boards by Saku Koivu.
Chris Therien also missed some shifts in the third period after he took a stick to the face.
"It's a tough time for us right now," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Regrouping is going to become important. I don't think we can lose sight of the fact that we were checked hard today and we didn't respond the way I would have liked."
Montreal took a 1-0 lead at 8:28 of the first when Flyers goalie Robert Esche, who stopped 18 shots, could not control the puck in a scramble in front of the net and Zednik dumped it in.
Zednik's second goal came 21 seconds into a power play in the second period when he took a centering pass from Ryder and flipped it in for a 2-0 lead. Zednik also missed a penalty shot in the second period, shooting just right of the net, after being taken down by Therien.
Zednik thought more about the one he missed than the goals he scored.
"Coach told me, 'Go between his legs' and that was on my mind all the way," Zednik said, smiling.
Bulis added his 10th goal in the third. Koivu made a nice pass from behind the net to Bulis, who scored from the left circle.
Ryder scored with 1 minute left in the game.
LW Todd Fedoruk played in his 200th NHL game, all with the Flyers. ... Montreal snapped a six-game losing streak against the Flyers, beating them for the first time since April 4, 2002, in Philadelphia. ... The Canadiens had a goal waved off because a high stick knocked the puck into the net.