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Canadiens Score Five Goals in Second to Obliterate Flyers and Playoff Chances, 9-3

(Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press via AP)

The Philadelphia Flyers looked like a team that had nothing left in the tank tonight after the Montréal Canadiens obliterated them 9-3, effectively ending their playoff push with just three games remaining in the regular season.

The loss also represented their eighth consecutive defeat, but they keep getting worse and worse by the game. All credit to the Canadiens for keeping their foot on the gas and taking advantage of shoddy defensive lapses and abhorrent goaltending, but the Flyers are a complete shell of what they were just a 4-5 weeks ago.

Juraj Slafkovský scored the first of his three goals just 65 seconds into the game after he deflected a Mike Matheson point shot. He would add his second marker 8:43 into the second but that opened the floodgates as the Canadiens scored five goals in less than seven minutes to take the game away and erupt the Bell Centre.

Brendan Gallagher made it 3-0 just 2:03 later, Slafkovský completed the hat trick 36 seconds after that, before Josh Anderson scored his first goal in 17 games just 80 seconds later. Samuel Ersson was pulled after allowing 5 goals on 17 shots, but Ivan Fedotov was given a rude welcome as Christian Dvorak scored in his first game since December 30th less than three minutes into his relief appearance.

Ryan Poehling broke the shutout early in the third but Montréal responded back with two quick goals from Dvorak and Gallagher to jump ahead to an 8-1 lead.

Joel Farabee scored with less than 5 minutes remaining in regulation to snap out of his 10-game goal-less drought and earning his 50th point of the season and then Poehling added his second of the night with less than three minutes to go. Joel Armia then made it 9-3 with 103 seconds left as the Canadiens finished off a 2-on-1 opportunity.

The Flyers entered tonight’s must-win contest against the Canadiens riding a season-high 7-game losing streak and had found their way out of a playoff spot for the first time in over 4 months. After a disastrous weekend back-to-back set that saw them ousted in Buffalo and then orchestrated a hapless effort in Columbus on Saturday, Philadelphia’s playoff hopes took another beating, essentially making tonight the deciding game to their 2023-24 season.

John Tortorella brought back veterans Erik Johnson and Marc Staal in lieu of the rookie pairing of Ronnie Attard and Adam Ginning, Sean Couturier returned from his two-game absence in place of Cam Atkinson, and Denis Gurianov remained in the press box. Samuel Ersson earned his 29th start out of the club’s last 35 games, hoping to put an end to their insufferable bender.

As for Montréal, they entered tonight having lost 10 of their last 15 games but earned a crucial victory against the Flyers just two weeks ago. Nick Suzuki continued to pace the team offensively with 33 goals and 74 points in 77 games and following him were Cole Caufield (59 points) and Mike Matheson (57 points).

Surprisingly, the Canadiens didn’t opt to go with Cayden Primeau, who not only earned the victory the last time these two teams faced off but carries a 2-1-1 record with a .948 SV% and a 1.69 GAA against the Flyers. Samuel Montembault earned the start, sporting a 15-15-7 record and a .904 SV%. In two prior games against the Flyers, Montembault was 1-0-0 with an .878 SV% and a 3.54 GAA.


It only took Montreal 65 seconds to get on the board after Mike Matheson wired a one-timer from the point that was tipped past Samuel Ersson by Juraj Slafkovský.

The Canadiens were able to keep the puck in the zone before Cole Caufield set up the defenseman with his 36th assist and 60th point of the season – the first time the winger has reached that milestone in his young career.

At the 10:31 mark of the first period, the Flyers jumped onto their first power play of the night after the Canadiens were caught for too many men on the ice. It was another hapless effort from the man advantage as they provided less urgency and offensive prowess than when they played on even strength.

After allowing the opening goal, the Flyers controlled the first half of the period with 10 shots but then Montréal took over with a ton offensive zone time and high danger chances one after the other. The Flyers held a 12-8 edge in shots but were facing another deficit heading into the intermission.


The Canadiens doubled their lead 8:43 into the middle frame after Slafkovský slammed home a one-timer after Nick Seeler left the youngster unmarked at the side of the net. Scott Laughton was initially covering Nick Suzuki but looked to have cheated a little, which led to Seeler to believing he was left wide open. Suzuki made no mistake setting up Slafkovský’s 18th of the season.

2:03 later, the Canadiens jumped to a 3-0 lead after Brendan Gallagher deflected his 12th goal of the season past the outstretched glove of Ersson. Johnathan Kovacevic’s slap-shot from the point evaded Seeler’s block attempt but his aggressiveness allowed Gallagher to be left alone in front of Ersson.

36 seconds later – and after a John Tortorella  timeout – the Canadiens scored again as Slafkovský finished off his first career hat trick on a breakaway after being set up by a stretch pass from David Savard in his own zone.

1:20 after Slafkovský’s hat trick, Josh Anderson made it 5-0 after he scored his ninth of the season, second goal in 33 games, and first goal in 17 games. He made easy work of Seeler as he made a power forward-type move towards the blue paint before stuffing it past Ersson. That was all she wrote for the young Swede as Ivan Fedotov came in his stead.

The Flyers clearly threw in the towel with almost no defensive coverage and allowing the Canadiens to pepper the goaltenders. Christian Dvorak scored in his first game since the 30th of December after he was left all alone in the slot with all five white sweaters convening together in the middle of the ice – just 2:45 after Anderson’s tally.

The Canadiens scored five goals in the period to jump ahead to a 6-0 lead after 40 minutes. More impressively, they scored all five goals within a span of 6:44 and the latter four goals came within a span of 4:41.


4:54 into the final frame, the Flyers broke Montembeault’s shutout bid after former Canadiens forward Ryan Poehling wired a shot from the slot for his 11th of the season. The Flyers broke out from the defensive zone as Erik Johnson found Owen Tippett from defensive zone to the offensive zone with a stretch pass before he dropped it off to Poehling for the finish.

With 13:32 remaining, the Flyers jumped on their second power play of the night after Alex Newhook was found guilty of a high-sticking minor. Another zero on the board as they have now gone 2-for-23 on the power play during their eight-game bender.

The Canadiens reclaimed their six-goal lead after Dvorak scored his second of the night after several miscues in the defensive zone led to an easy tally. Laughton initially turned the puck over along the boards and Rafaël Harvey-Pinard’s pass went off of Johnson’s skate and right to the streaking Dvorak, who had an empty net to shoot at with Fedotov sliding the other way.

Montréal didn’t stop there as Gallagher scored his second of the night as well at the 11:19 mark as he finished the play through the wickets of Fedotov. Seeler’s nightmarish game continued as Gallagher jettisoned past the defensive defenseman with a burst of speed before finishing off his 13th of the season.

The veteran had gone 12 games without a goal prior to tonight and earned himself his first multi-goal game of the season.

As several Canadiens broke through their goal-less droughts, Joel Farabee followed suit with his first goal in 11 games with less than five minutes to go. Noah Cates did all the dirty work as he made a move towards the net and as the puck was fumbling and bouncing, Farabee got his stick on the puck that went through Montembeault’s five-hole for his 22nd of the season.

Poehling then scored his second of the night after the same cast and crew from his first goal connected with 2:50 left on the clock. Tippett held onto the puck and brought it to the point before finding Johnson who skated into the slot as he found Poehling for a tap-in on the other side of the net.

The scoring didn’t cease, however, as Joel Armia scored to make it 9-3 with 103 seconds left in regulation for his 17th of the season. The Canadiens alley-ooped a pass out of the zone and Gallagher made it easy work against Fedotov who paid no attention to Armia. Gallagher threaded a pass with the goaltender paying him all his attention and it was another easy tap-in for a Canadiens forward tonight.


The Flyers head to the Big Apple to play the New York Rangers (7:00pm ET, NBCSP) on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

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