Some nights it’s a goaltender between the pipes; other nights it’s a brick wall. Tuesday night, it was the latter for the Montreal Canadiens as Carey Price backstopped them to a 3-0 shutout over the red hot Flyers offense.
Eighteen goals over three games was no fluke, this is a Flyers offense that knows how to beat goalies and put pucks in the net. But the Habs’ standalone starter, Carey Price – who no longer has to worry about Jaroslav Halak stepping in to take his job – didn’t seem to mind standing on his head and fending off 41 Flyers’ shots.
Throughout the night, the Flyers faced one of the most aggressive teams they’ve seen in weeks. Instead of being the only group out there going hard on the forecheck, taking the body, and working hard on pucks, the Flyers found themselves competing with a pretty evenly matched squad in red.
Sergei Bobrovsky – who surprisingly got the start over Brian Boucher in the second half of this back-to-back pair – found himself working hard, throwing his lightning quick pads out left and right to keep pucks and opposing shooters at bay. One got by him in the first period, but it could hardly be considered his fault.
Down two men thanks to a questionable hooking call on Matt Carle and a delay of game penalty to Chris Pronger for sending a puck over the glass, the Flyers’ Andrej Meszaros and Mike Richards got stuck chasing a puck into the corner, where it was worked out and sent to a wide open Mike Cammalleri for his patented down-on-one-knee one timer to beat Bobrovsky.
Throughout the first two periods, the Flyers peppered Carey Price, racking up 33 shots through forty minutes of play. In the middle of the second, they had their best chance to answer as the Canadiens took a pair of penalties to put on a 5-on-3 disadvantage. Plenty of chances abound, but Price had all the answers. When the puck finally cleared the Montreal zone, Tomas Plekanec beat Bobrovsky with a no look shot as he tried to sell the pass on the man trailing behind.
In the third period, a frustrated and exhausted Flyers team, struggling to keep up after playing two nights in a row and traveling, went up against an angry Canadiens team who reacted to every thing they did. First it was Darroll Powe, who had a pair of hits – one called for a penalty and the other deemed clean – that left Habs fans and players alike wanting a piece of the 5’11” forward. Ultimately, it was Maxim Lapiere who challenged him to a drop the gloves, and Powe obliged, being the only man in the fight to throw a punch, much less connect with one.
As further proof that you make your own breaks, the Flyers – who have had nothing but bounces going their way – found themselves prey to some Montreal luck. Following an unfortunate incident that saw James van Riemsdyk trip and fall into Price, drawing a goaltender interference call, Brian Gionta centered a puck that tipped off Kimmo Timonen’s skate and through Bobrovsky’s legs to seal the deal at 3-0.
Their point streak finally at an end, perhaps the Flyers will see fit to rest the young Bobrovsky, whose 15 games played puts him on pace for over 60 games. And history has told us that goaltenders who start this many games rarely succeed come playoff time – especially if this goalie has never played more than 35 games in a season in his career.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Carey Price: The key to the game, Price showed no emotion and no panic while staying poised in front of more than 40 Flyers shots (the third consecutive game they’ve reached that mark). These shots weren’t just fluttering wrist shots from outside, either. Many of them were point blank scoring chances, and he stuffed them all just the same. Hats off to Price, who may have single handedly earned these two points.
Special Teams: A strength for the Flyers of late, having made opponents pay for their penalties while keeping them from getting much going during the Flyers’ shorthanded stretches, special teams played in favor of Montreal on this night. All three of the game’s key moments – the three Montreal goals – came as a result of special teams play on their part. First it was capitalizing on a Flyers’ two man disadvantage, then it was stoning them on a 5-on-3 chance of their own before putting a puck in on the next shot, and finally it was finishing the evening off with another power play goal.