Briere Scores Twice, Flyers Beat Habs 4-1

Image Courtesy of Associated Press

For the first time since his hat-trick on January 7th against the Ottawa Senators, Danny Briere registered a goal that wasn’t an empty-netter in the Flyers’ 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens tonight. Briere’s two goals came at a crucial time in Philly’s victory, as his pair of power-play tallies in the second period helped the Flyers win their third game of the season over the Canadiens.

“I just want to find a way to keep scoring goals,” said Briere. “It’s been an up and down season but the team keeps winning and that is all that matters.”

Special teams played a huge factor in the game, as the Orange and Black dominated the Canadiens’ league-leading penalty-kill unit. Matt Read’s goal late in the third period was the only Flyers’ goal not to be recorded on the power play, as Philly potted three power-play goals on five attempts. Montreal, on the other hand, failed to record a single goal on five man advantages.

Ilya Bryzgalov made some key saves in his 23-save win, the most important of which was his stop on Erik Cole that came seconds after Tomas Plekanec’s game-tying tally in the second stanza.

Minutes into the game, the Canadiens had a chance to gain the lead with a 2-on-1 odd-man rush. Petteri Nokelainen flew along the boards in the Flyers’ zone before he threw a pass to Aaron Palushaj, who caught the puck in slot. Bryzgalov was able to move across the crease in time to deny Palushaj’s attempt and keep the score at zero.

Thanks to the save, and a Plekanec slashing call, Philly grabbed the game’s first goal. Six seconds after Plekanec was sent to the sin bin, Kimmo Timonen controlled a Claude Giroux faceoff win and maneuvered his way along the blue line before he released a slapper. His shot eluded both Peter Budaj and the traffic in front of the Canadiens’ goalie for his fourth goal of the season, as well as his second in four games.

The remainder of the first period failed to produce another goal, as the Flyers couldn’t convert on another power-play chance minutes after Timonen’s goal and the Habs didn’t capitalize on the few odd-man rushes they had in the opening 20 minutes.

In the middle stanza, the Flyers continued to abuse Montreal’s penalty-kill unit, as Briere potted a pair of goals.

After a Plekanec breakaway goal, where the Habs’ forward slid the puck just past Bryzgalov’s sprawled left skate, Briere redirected a Matt Carle shot from the point to restore the Flyers’ advantage. With Alexei Emelin in the sin bin for interference, a Carle wrister found its way through traffic in front before Briere tipped the biscuit past Budaj for his 15th of 2011-2012.

Minutes later, Briere deposited another power-play tally. While the Canadiens were completing a line change, Bryzgalov launched a pass to Jaromir Jagr at Montreal’s blue line. The former Penguin moved the puck to Briere, who flew to the bottom of the circles and lifted a shot over Budaj’s glove and left shoulder. The Flyers’ forward squeaked the shot just under the crossbar for a two-goal Philly lead.

Briere’s goals gave Philly a 3-1 lead heading into the final period, as Bryzgalov helped keep the Canadiens from scoring multiple tallies in the second stanza.

The third period was more of the same for Philly, as Read added on another goal for the Flyers’ 4-1 victory.

Halfway through the period, minutes after Pavel Kubina handled Josh Gorges in a fight, Wayne Simmonds caused a scrum in the Canadiens’ zone which led to a Canadiens’ man advantage. Seconds later, Bryzgalov put the Habs on a two-man advantage with his tripping infraction on Andrei Markov.

With 1:21 of two-man advantage time, the Canadiens received several slapshots from P.K. Subban, who heard it all night long from the Flyers’ faithful. The plan didn’t work, as Philly killed off the shorthanded situation successfully to keep the difference at two goals.

Following the Canadiens’ power play, Briere nearly recorded his hat-trick tally on two seperate occasions. His second chance came with a wrister from the slot that Budaj managed to fumble to the ice before he frantically covered.

In the final two minutes of the game, Read capped off the Broad Street Bullies’ win with a beautiful finish to a tic-tac-toe play he started. After he threw the puck to Carle at the point, Read rushed back to the net and received a cross-ice pass from Sean Couturier to slam home his 21st goal of the season.

The Orange and Black try to make it a three-game winning streak, as they host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.

Notes: Bryzgalov recorded his first win against the Canadiens with tonight’s win. It was the last team in the NHL he had not registered a win against…Bryzgalov recorded his second assist of the season with his secondary assist on Briere’s second tally of the game. His first assist this season was a secondary assist on a Max Talbot first period tally against the Boston Bruins on January 22nd…Briere’s goal in the first period ended a 29-game stretch without a goal against a goalie. His two-goal game tonight was his third multi-goal game of the season (one hat-trick and two two-goal games)…Chris Pronger received a standing ovation when he was introduced to the crowd late in the first period…Timonen’s goal in the opening period is the first time the Flyers have scored the game’s first goal since their 3-2 win against the New York Islanders on March 15th…Carle’s assist on Briere’s first goal was his 200th point in the NHL…The Flyers improved to 3-1-0 against the Canadiens and to 12-3-2 against the Northeast Division this season (BOS 1-1-2, OTT 2-1-0, BUF 3-0-0, TOR 3-0-0, MTL 3-1-0)…The Flyers improved 44-23-8. They were 45-20-10 after 75 games last season.