Flyers will play Canadiens in Eastern Conference First Round
Philadelphia earned top seed in round-robin; Montreal defeated Pittsburgh in Qualifiers to advanceby David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer
The Philadelphia Flyers will play the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Philadelphia won its three games in the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers to earn the No. 1 seed in the East. Montreal eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins in a best-of-5 qualifier series and will be the No. 8 seed.
Game 1 is Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).
"[Carey Price] definitely stole them a series there," Flyers goalie Carter Hart told NBC of his Canadiens counterpart. "Played really well, made a lot of big saves, really kept them in it. We know he's arguably the best goaltender in the NHL, so we're going to have to fire a lot of pucks at him.
"We know they're a team that has some offensive ability as well, so we just have to prepare and we'll be ready for Game 1."
Scott Laughton led the Flyers with five points (three goals, two assists) and Kevin Hayes had four assists in the round-robin. Hart was 2-0-0 and made 57 saves on 59 shots (1.00 goals-against average, .966 save percentage). Brian Elliott allowed one goal on 17 shots in a 3-1 win against the Washington Capitals on Aug. 6.
"We're going to have to continue to solidify ourselves as a team because the team that we're playing, and I'm saying that honestly, is probably, I thought, was the best team I've seen here so far," Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. "Good team game, good balance. They're deep in every position, they seem to be having some solid contribution. It's going to be a really good challenge for us. You hope that what happened in the [Qualifiers] is going to help you get through the here."
Shea Weber (two goals, two assists) and Paul Byron (one goal, three assists) each scored four points in the Qualifiers, which Montreal entered as the No. 12 seed. Jeff Petry and Jesperi Kotkaniemi each scored two goals. Price was 3-1-0 allowing seven goals on 133 shots (1.67 GAA, .947 save percentage, one shutout).
"Definitely excited," Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. "They just played a big series, big win. They were underdogs there. They're a good team. You can't take anyone lightly in this League. You've got to be ready at the drop of the puck. I think, for us, it's a good matchup. It'll be a fun series."
Video: The Flyers shock the NHL by earning the number 1 seed
Philadelphia defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 on Saturday to determine the top two Eastern seeds.
The Flyers won two of three games against the Canadiens this season. Six players scored two points each for Philadelphia, including a goal and an assist each for Sean Couturier, Joel Farabee, Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny. Hart allowed two goals on 22 shots in a 3-2 overtime win on Nov. 7; Elliott allowed three goals on 42 shots in a 4-3 overtime win on Nov. 30.
"They're a hard-working team as well," Canadiens forward Tomas Tatar said. "They were well-structured, I think they have four good lines as well. It's going to be a tough and good match. We're excited. They have a lot of experience on that too so it's going to be tough."
Tatar (three goals, two assists) and Phillip Danault (five assists) led the Canadiens with five points each against the Flyers, and Weber scored three points (one goal, two assists). Price was 1-0-1 making 80 saves on 84 shots (1.98 goals-against average, .952 save percentage).
This will be the seventh playoff series between the teams; each has won three times, with Philadelphia winning the most recent, defeating Montreal in five games in the Eastern Conference Final in 2010.
The Flyers and Canadiens did not qualify for the playoffs last season. The best-of-7 series will be played at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the hub city for the Eastern Conference.
NHL.com independent correspondent Wes Crosby contributed to this report