January 10, 2014 by Howard Hutchinson
The Philadelphia Flyers did not disappoint at the Wells Fargo Center Jan. 8 as they took down the Montreal Canadiens, 3-1, for their 10th consecutive home victory.
The Flyers went into the game against Montreal coming off a six-game road trip, which concluded the night before with a 3-2 overtime win against the rival New Jersey Devils. Philadelphia had their strongest road trip of the season, as they ended with a 5-1 mark.
The Jan. 7 game against the Devils seemed especially significant for Flyers’ captain Claude Giroux. Earlier that day, Giroux was informed that he did not make Canada’s Olympic roster. Being arguably the most significant snub, Giroux seemed to be playing with a large chip on his shoulder as he scored Philadelphia’s opening goal against the Devils.
The Flyers looked to keep momentum from Brayden Schenn’s overtime game-winner the night before as they got set to face a scrappy Canadiens team.
Despite their recent success, the Flyers have made it a routine to fall behind early and make a comeback. This was not the case against the Canadiens, as Philadelphia scored the first three goals of the game, courtesy of Sean Couturier, Zac Rinaldo and Michael Raffl.
Couturier opened the scoring on a rebound 6:27 into the first period. Vincent Lecavalier deflected a shot from the point by Andrej Meszaros on Montreal goalie Peter Budaj. The puck ricocheted off Budaj’s right pad and dropped into the crease, where Couturier found it and put it home for his eighth goal of the season.
The Flyers extended their lead to 2-0 at 14:39 into the first period as Rinaldo scored his first goal of the season. Following a heavy fore check by Philadelphia, Montreal’s Douglas Murray sent the puck toward the front of his own net. Rinaldo intercepted the puck on his backhand and took a shot that deflected off Lars Eller’s skate and between the legs of Budaj.
Philadelphia put their third goal on the board 8:24 into the second period. Meszaros took a pass from Schenn and skated hard down the left side of the Montreal zone, then cut to the middle to create a dangerous scoring chance. Budaj made the initial save on Meszaros, but the rebound kicked out to Raffl, who put it into the back of the net.
The Flyers’ only costly mistake of the night came on their power play at 17:37 into the second period. As the Flyers were looking to change lines, Steve Downie fell at the defensive blue line. Brian Gionta was quick to jump on the loose puck and started a two-on-one rush with Tomas Plekanec the other way. Gionta sent a pass over to Plekanec on the left side of the zone and he took a wrist shot, which found daylight over Philadelphia goalie Steve Mason’s right shoulder to cut the lead to 3-1.
Despite the mistake at the end of the second period, the Flyers stayed strong and were able to finish off the Canadiens for their third consecutive win.
Meszaros earned the first star of the game as he assisted on all three of the Flyers goals. It was his first three-point game since March 1, 2012. Mason was strong between the pipes once again, as the goalie stopped 19 of the 20 shots hit his way. He has now won nine consecutive starts on the Wells Fargo Center ice.
“The Flyers looked sharp against Montreal after a hard fought victory over New Jersey the night before,” fourth-year graphic design student Jimmy Mocko said. “It was good to see the team able to carry over the momentum and get a comfortable win.”
It was only a few short weeks ago that the Philadelphia Flyers found themselves near the bottom of the Metropolitan Division, but much has changed since then. Over their last 10 games, the Flyers have racked up eight wins, catapulting themselves into second place in the division and fifth overall in the Eastern Conference.