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Raffl, Flyers bounce back with win vs. Canadiens

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- Peter Raffl picked a good time to see his first NHL game.

The father of Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl not only got to see his son promoted to the first line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek, but he got to watch in person as Raffl scored his second NHL goal in the Flyers' 2-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

Giroux also had a goal, Voracek had a pair of assists and goalie Steve Mason stopped 20 shots.

The win came one night after the Flyers closed their six-game, 12-day road trip with a 7-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. Philadelphia was 2-3-1 on the trip.

"It's a big comeback game here for us," Mason said. "We get in real late last night after a long trip. To be able to come out with that performance, that all-round game, not give them much the whole 60 minutes, that's a character game there. That's good."

Alex Galchenyuk scored the Canadiens' only goal and Carey Price made 25 saves as Montreal lost its second straight, following a 6-0 loss at home to the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.

Raffl, who has played up and down the lineup in his first NHL season, said he learned early Thursday afternoon that he'd be playing on the top line against the Canadiens.

"[Giroux] texted me in the afternoon that I'm going to play with him," Raffl said "Was a great [afternoon] nap and then I came here ready to play."

"He's been playing well for us," Giroux said of Raffl. "He can skate, he can shoot, he's aggressive, and it was fun playing with him."

Raffl showcased his skills at 13:57 of the first period. Giroux beat Tomas Plekanec on a faceoff on the left side of the Montreal zone and then found the puck in a scrum and dumped it behind the Canadiens net to Voracek. He walked in front and found Raffl above the hashmarks. Raffl settled the puck and sent a wrist shot past Price.

"[Giroux] did really good work after the last faceoff," Raffl said. "He got the puck to Jake behind the net, and he's so strong one against one. I was just trying to get open in the slot, and he hit me perfect. It was a pretty nice goal."

Flyers coach Craig Berube switched Raffl and Scott Hartnell, shifting the Austrian rookie from left wing on the second line to the top line. Berube said Raffl earned a shot on the first line based on strong recent play.

"The last couple games on the road, I thought he was really good," Berube said. "I liked what I saw and I wanted to make a change, and it ended up working out. He's a quick player, strong on the puck. He's getting more pucks on net, not missing the net so much. I just thought I'd try it."

The Flyers' first home game since Nov. 29 also was the start of the team's annual fathers' trip, which will conclude after the team's game against the Washington Capitals in D.C. on Sunday.

For Raffl, scoring with his father in attendance was a bonus. Peter Raffl lives in Austria, but Raffl had played the previous two seasons in Sweden, making it tough for his father to get much opportunity to see his son play live.

"He never saw an NHL game in his life," Raffl said. "All this stuff is awesome. ... I was so happy when I saw him this morning. He didn't get the chance to watch so many games that I played, and I don't think he's ever saw an NHL game, so that's something special for me tonight."

The goal was part of a strong first period for the Flyers, who limited Montreal to four shots on goal in the opening 20 minutes. It was a start that bewildered Canadiens coach Michel Therrien.

"Really disappointed," Therrien said. "Disappointing performance. I thought, especially with the game we played at home, I thought we were going to be on fire, and I'm disappointed."

Giroux made it 2-0 halfway through the second period on a play that started with a nice pass by defenseman Erik Gustafsson to Brayden Schenn to turn the play toward the Montreal zone. Schenn skated the puck through the middle of the ice and passed to the left side for Voracek. Four Montreal skaters turned to follow Voracek, who whipped a cross-ice pass to Giroux. The Flyers captain got the puck in the right circle and fired a wrister past Price at 9:43.

The Canadiens finally got on the board with 55.1 seconds left in the third on Galchenyuk's ninth goal of the season, which came with Price on the bench for an extra attacker. Nicklas Grossmann stopped a backhand attempt by Canadiens captain Brian Gionta, but Grossmann's clearing pass went right to Galchenyuk in the left circle. Galchenyuk sent the puck back on net through a screen, and while Mason stopped the shot, the puck found space between the goalie's left arm and his body. It dropped on the goal line before trickling across.

The goal snapped a scoring drought of 140:57 for the Canadiens, who had not scored since the second period of their Dec. 7 game against the Buffalo Sabres.

"We were definitely slow in the first," Gionta said. "In the second, we had a decent start, solid 6-7 first shifts. A bit of an untimely goal there. It's tough when you start late to try and get back into the game. We made a good push, but it was just a little too late."

The Galchenyuk goal was the only mistake Mason made as he snapped a personal two-game winless skid. His best save came on a Brendan Gallagher attempt with 6:48 left in the second period. Galchenyuk raced the puck down the left side and centered to a driving Gallagher, who tipped the puck on net, but Mason went post to post to get his left pad on the shot as Gallagher ran into him.

The Canadiens nearly broke through with 6:35 left in the third period when Galchenyuk's shot from the left side got between Mason's arm and his body and dropped into the crease. Gionta dove for the puck and pushed it into the net, but referees immediately waved off the goal, ruling Gionta directed the puck into the net with his glove. Replay review upheld the call.

The Canadiens had to play the final minutes of the second period and all of the third without defenseman Alexei Emelin, who was assessed a five-minute major for elbowing and a game misconduct for a hit on the Flyers' Steve Downie at 16:15 of the second period. Downie remained on the ice for several moments after the hit and then skated slowly off the ice under his own power, with Flyers trainer Jim McCrossin walking next to him. Downie played nine shifts in the third period.

The Flyers have won six straight at Wells Fargo Center against the Canadiens since the start of the 2010-11 season.

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