Flyers Miss Opportunities, Lose 4-1 in Montreal

Image courtesy of Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers were never really in the game tonight, as they fell to the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre by the score of 4-1.

Both Brendan Gallagher and Rene Bourque had a goal and an assist, while the pair of Brian Gionta and Max Pacioretty each registered two helpers in the Canadiens’ third straight victory. Stepping in for the ill Carey Price, Peter Budaj wasn’t asked to do much, but he did stop 18 of the Flyers’ 19 shots on net for his first win in 2013.

“It feels great. Our team played a great defensive game and helped me out a lot,” Budaj said of his teammates. “I didn’t have much work – I think until the last seven minutes of the game they only had seven shots on net. Our team played great; great penalty killing, a lot of blocked shots and it was a great team effort.”

For Philadelphia, Danny Briere was the only Flyer to beat Budaj, which came on a shot that took two lucky caroms to fool the netminder. Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn had the assists on Briere’s goal, as Brian Boucher denied 25 of the 28 shots Montreal threw at him in the loss as the Flyers fell to 1-3-0 on their six-game road trip.

“There’s no compete,” Giroux said after the game. “We’re not winning battles. We’re just going through the motions. You know, we’re a young team that can skate. We should be winning more battles than this. It’s just frustrating to see. I know I have to be better, but a team is 20 guys and you need everybody to show up.”

There was no question the Canadiens outworked the Flyers for the majority of the contest, but the visitors did flub some major chances to get back in the game.

In the middle of the second period, Budaj misplayed the puck behind the net, which resulted in Sean Couturier throwing a pass to Tye McGinn in the slot with the Canadiens’ goalie trying to rush back to the crease. The rookie was unable to cut the deficit to one thanks to a diving shot block from P.K. Subban.

After Briere scored to make it a one-goal game, the Flyers experienced power-play time for four minutes in the final five minutes of the middle frame. Gallagher tossed the disc over the glass in the Canadiens’ zone before Pacioretty did the same action 2:02 later.

With what was essentially a four-minute man advantage, the Orange and Black barely produced chances let alone the game-tying goal. The Flyers had only two shots on net during the pair of power plays, both of which came on Gallagher’s minor.

Then, with under four minutes left in regulation, an Erik Gustafsson wrist shot from the point squeaked through Budaj’s five-hole and was heading over the goal line before the goaltender reached back with his stick to swipe the disc out of danger. Budaj’s sweep went directly to McGinn, who failed to get a clean shot on net and glided the puck right back to the Canadiens’ goaltender.

As for scoring, Gallagher put Montreal ahead with a little over 11 minutes left in the first period.

Pacioretty carried the puck through the neutral zone before he found Gallagher slightly into the top of the circle to Boucher’s right. After a quick movement from his backhand to his forehand, Gallagher let go of a wrister that beat Boucher blocker side for his fifth goal in the NHL.

After the teams finished out the opening stanza, where the Canadiens had a 12-2 shot advantage, David Desharnais extended the hosts lead early in the second frame.

Pacioretty started another scoring play, as he carried the puck into the Flyers’ zone and attempted to put a wrister on Boucher from the hash marks, but had his shot altered by Luke Schenn. As the puck traveled behind the cage, Pacioretty followed and moved from Boucher’s left-to-right before he backhanded a feed to Gallagher. The rookie tried to one-time the pass, but Kimmo Timonen prevented it from happening. Unfortunately for Philly, this resulted in the disc unattended at the bottom of the slot, where Desharnais picked it up and beat Boucher low glove side.

Down by two just 1:15 into the second period, the Flyers didn’t respond until later in the frame.

From the red line, the younger Schenn threw a pass to Voracek, who was at the blue line along the boards to Budaj’s right. The former Columbus Blue Jacket skated until he was alongside the dot to Budaj’s right and threw it cross ice to Briere. With a wrister just inside the opposite faceoff circle, Briere had his shot redirect off of Andrei Markov’s stick and then the same defender’s skate before it dribbled by the befuddled goalie to end his shutout bid with 6:04 left in the middle period.

The Orange and Black headed into the final 20 minutes only down by two, but a tally from Tomas Plekanec with 15:28 left in regulation made it a two-goal game again.

Thanks to a Bourque takeaway on the younger Schenn near the corner to Boucher’s right, the former Calgary Flame found Plekanec in the slot for a scoring opportunity. A dive by Braydon Coburn caused Plekanec to change his shot option before he had his first shot blocked by the fallen d-man. With this block, Boucher dropped to the ice in anticipation of the attempt, which led to Plekanec’s ability to beat the goaltender high when he gained control of the puck after Coburn’s shot block.

Bourque had the final goal of the game, as he was rewarded a penalty shot with Boucher pulled for an automatic goal.

“We’re not a in a position where anybody isn’t concerned,” Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette stated after the loss which dropped his team to 6-9-1 and 12th in the conference. “We’re not understanding the fact that we need to win hockey games.”

The Flyers will look to end their current skid with a matinee game on Monday against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.

Notes: The loss tonight ends the Flyers’ three-game winning streak against Montreal. Their last loss to the Canadiens was a 5-1 decision on October 26, 2011…Gustafsson, who wore #29 tonight, sat for one penalty and a shot on net with a rating of plus-1 in 16:40 of ice time…Tonight was the first time the Flyers lost the second game of a back-to-back this season. They beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3 on February 2 and the Winnipeg Jets 3-2 on Tuesday. The Flyers had won the second game of a back-to-back four straight times. The last time they lost was a 4-1 defeat to the New Jersey Devils last season on March 11, 2012 after they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 1-0 in a shootout the day before…Since they killed off all four of their penalties tonight, the Flyers have killed off 16 straight….Philly was 0-for-4 on the power play tonight. It’s the first time the team failed to record a power-play goal with at least four power plays since their 5-1 loss in Tampa Bay on January 27, where they were 0-for-6…Tonight marked Boucher’s third straight start that resulted in a loss. Boosh has allowed at least three goals against in five consecutive starts dating back to December 3, 2011…Giroux and Zac Rinaldo tied for a game-high five hits…The Flyers have now allowed four goals against or more in three of their last four games and three goals against or more in four of their last five games…This was the Flyers’ fifth loss this season where they lost by three goals or more. They lost by three goals or more eight times during the 2011-2012 regular season…This was Budaj’s first win of the season. It marks the first time he has allowed one goal or less since he stopped 30 of 31 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in a Canadiens’ 4-1 win on April 7, 2012…The Flyers dropped to 0-1-0 against the Canadiens this season and 0-3-0 against the Northeast Division (MTL 0-1-0, BOS 0-0-0, TOR 0-1-0, OTT 0-0-0, BUF 0-1-0).