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Flyers Have Two Goals Taken Back in Third, Drop “Must-Win” in Montréal by Score of 4-1

(Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press via AP)

In a must-win for the Philadelphia Flyers, they essentially threw up a dud against the Montréal Canadiens, falling by a score of 4-1. In a quintessential trap game, the first 40 minutes were rough to watch and while they got better in the third period, it was too little too late.

Two disallowed goals in the third period also doesn’t help the cause.

Nick Suzuki opened the scoring on the power play before Jesse Ylönen doubled their lead before the first period came to a close. Ryan Poehling looked to have got the Flyers on the board early in the third period but it was waved off after it was ruled that Garnet Hathaway kicked the puck in. Then shortly after, Morgan Frost’s goal was taken back as well because it was ruled Tyson Foerster was offside on the previous play.

Joel Armia scored an empty netter with 2:55 remaining before Owen Tippett broke Cayden Primeau’s shutout with 1:01 left on the clock. Jake Evans added another empty netter with just 3 seconds left. Samuel Ersson made 14 saves and Primeau earned his second straight win after making 29 stops.

The Washington Capitals lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings lost to the Carolina Hurricanes, but the New York Islanders defeated the Florida Panthers in the race for a playoff berth.

After a see-saw battle that ended in an overtime defeat against the New York Rangers, the Flyers exited the 7-game gauntlet with a 2-3-2 record as they set their sights on the Canadiens north of the border. With the Washington Capitals playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight, the Flyers desperately needed to corral the two points against the 27th-ranked Canadiens with not much breathing room in the playoff picture.

The lineup remained the same with the exception of Noah Cates being absent due to personal reasons. Cam Atkinson returned to the lineup for the first time since the 16th of March as he looks to snap out of his 16-game point drought. Samuel Ersson returned between the pipes, looking for his 22nd win of the season.

As for the Canadiens, they entered tonight 6th-last in the NHL standings with a 27-32-12 record but had won back-to-back games for the first time since January 15th and 17th. Before the two victories against Seattle and Colorado, they dropped 15 of their previous 19 games.

Offensively, they were paced by Nick Suzuki‘s 29 goals and 67 points in 71 games, followed by Cole Caufield’s 55 points, Mike Matheson‘s 48 points, and Juraj Slafkovský’s 40 points. After them, it’s a steep dropoff with Alex Newhook rounding out the top-five with 25 points to his name (in 44 games). Cayden Primeau earned the start as well, looking to improve on his 7-7-2 record.

FIRST PERIOD

Heading into the first commercial break, Arber Xhekaj was sent to the penalty box for a slashing minor at the 6:47 mark. The Flyers juggled their power play units once again but it didn’t lead to a different result as they fired 2 shots on goal and very little pressure.

Now heading into the second commercial break the Flyers were sent to the sin bin after Travis Sanheim was nailed for an interference minor at the 11:37 mark. With 40 seconds remaining in the minor penalty, the Canadiens scored the game’s opening goal after Nick Suzuki fluttered a one-timer past Samuel Ersson for his 30th goal of the season. Mike Matheson’s impressive offensive season continued as he earned the secondary assist with a pass to Juraj Slafkovský, who extended his point streak to 9 games as he whipped a hard pass cross-crease to Suzuki.

The Canadiens then doubled their lead with just 3:14 to go in the period after Jesse Ylönen finished off a rebound in tight for his first goal since November 16th – a stretch of 43 games. Ersson made the initial stop on Jayden Struble but the rebound landed right to Ylönen at the edge of the blue paint.

At the sound of the horn to end the period, Scott Laughton and Josh Anderson got tangled up which led to a scrum with Sanheim, Xhekaj, and Cam York exchanging shoves and choice words.

This was the quintessential first period of a trap game with the Flyers sleeping at the wheel as they allowed the Canadiens to regain their legs in their first home game in 2 weeks. They registered 4 shots in the first 9 minutes but finished the final 11 minutes without a shot. Montreal scored 2 goals on 6 shots to take a commanding lead into the intermission.

SECOND PERIOD

Already playing 4-on-4 after the end-of-period scrum, Owen Tippett and Struble joined Xhekaj and Laughton in the penalty box at the 1:37 mark of the period. Tippett took an extra whack at the puck after Cayden Primeau made the initial save, which Struble obviously took offence to.

The recently leaky penalty kill of the Flyers were sent back to work at the 6:40 mark after Ronnie Attard was sent to the box for a tripping minor. Fortunately, this time around the Flyers killed it off and it was good to finally see Sean Couturier getting shorthanded minutes again.

With 8:09 remaining in the period, Laughton was slashed by Colin White, sending the Flyers onto their second power play of the game with just 8 shots on goal to that point. Unfortunately, it was another wasted attempt with just one shot on goal that was from the outside and with no traffic.

Looking for a spark, John Tortorella juggled his lines a little and it almost worked as York’s net-front chance was flubbed but Primeau robbed the rebound opportunity from a crashing Bobby Brink – who was playing with Tippett and Morgan Frost.

The period came to a close with Struble ringing a backhander off the crossbar, keeping the score at 2-0. Quite easily one of the worst forty minutes the Flyers have started out a game with, with very little offensive pressure, slow-footedness, and lacking urgency. Shots were 14-12 Philadelphia.

Similarly to the first period, there was a lengthy discussion happening between both clubs and it took a lot longer than usual for both teams to head off to their respective locker rooms. Couturier had a lengthy conversation with the officials and Tortorella chimed in with his own two cents as well.

THIRD PERIOD

At the 1:43 mark, the Flyers looked to have gotten their first goal of the game after Joel Farabee fired a shot with Ryan Poehling in front of the net. The puck squeaked through the arm of Primeau before Hathaway came in and pushed it in with his skate. It was originally deemed a good goal but after the review it was taken back.

The goal didn’t count but Anderson was called for a hooking minor before the puck went into the net. The listless power play couldn’t get anything going on again as they fired just one shot on goal and it barely tested Primeau.

At the 5:48 mark, the Flyers looked to have cut the deficit in half after Frost’s angled shot went in off the pad of Primeau. Travis Konecny‘s initial opportunity was blockered aside to the corner, which allowed Frost to fire away, however the goal was also reviewed – this time for an offside – as Tyson Foerster just beat out Frost as they entered the offensive zone.

The Flyers jumped onto their fourth power play of the night with 12:41 remaining in regulation after Xhekaj was found guilty of a hooking minor. With far more urgency, the Flyers had several whacks at getting that first goal but Konecny hit the post followed by Foerster’s deflection going just wide.

With 9:11 left on the clock, Suzuki looked to have given the Canadiens a commanding 3-0 lead after he deflected a shot past Ersson. It was quickly waived off by the referees and after a short review it was confirmed that the goal did not count.

The Flyers came in waves in the final six minutes but Primeau had all the answers. It started with a huge save on Laughton who received a pass from Konecny in tight, then Farabee’s one-time attempt at the side of the net was blocked, and then Hathaway tried jamming home a puck that was in and around the blue paint but to no avail.

Ersson was pulled with 3:15 remaining after Hathaway and Jake Evans received coincidental roughing minors. It didn’t take long for Montréal to jump on the puck as Joel Armia potted the empty-netter after Matheson was given all the time in the world to exit the defensive zone at the 17:05 mark.

Tippett got the Flyers on the board with 61 seconds remaining, firing a shot over the shoulder of Primeau and finally breaking his home shutout streak. The Flyers immediately called a timeout but Evans tallied another empty netter with about three seconds left.

UP NEXT

The Flyers return home to play Connor Bedard and the 31st-ranked Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night (7:00pm ET, NBCSP).

Union Forge Vodka proudly serves as the Official Vodka of Flyers Nation. This partnership celebrates the unyielding spirit of Flyers fans and offers a quality spirit that perfectly compliments the team’s essence. Whether celebrating victories or showing resilience, Union Forge Vodka embodies the winning spirit of both the Flyers and their dedicated fans. Stay connected with exciting giveaways by following @unionforge and @flyersnation across all social media and platforms.

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