Montreal misses a chance to overtake idle Toronto in the Atlantic Division standings with 5-2 loss.  

Philadelphia Flyers’ James van Riemsdyk moves in on Canadiens goaltender Antti Niemi in Montreal on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019. Graham Hughes / THE CANADIAN PRESS

You can’t win hockey games if you don’t score goals.

That point was hammered home for the Canadiens on Saturday night as they dropped a 5-2 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers at the Bell Centre.

By the time Max Domi found the back of the net for his 16th goal of the season, the Flyers had taken a 3-0 lead. Montreal outshot the Flyers 11-1 in the first period and had a 35-24 edge at the end of the game, but they had difficulty beating Carter Hart. The 20-year-old rookie outduelled 35-year-old veteran Antti Niemi, whose three-game winning streak came to an end.

The game also marked the end of the Canadiens’ four-game streak as Montreal missed a chance to overtake idle Toronto in the Atlantic Division standings.

After being outplayed by a wide margin in the first period, the Flyers came back late in the second period and scored two goals in a 1:34 span to take a 2-0 lead.

Travis Konecny opened the scoring at 17:01. Niemi stopped Shayne Gostisbehere’s shot from the point, but he gave up a rebound and Konecny scored from the bottom of the faceoff circle for his 12th of the season.

Konecny also picked up an assist on the Flyers’ second goal when James Van Riemsdyk scored on a deflection in a delayed penalty situation at 18:34.

Nolan Patrick had two goals in the third period to wrap up the Flyers’ scoring. It was the second two-goal game this season for the 20-year-old who has nine goals. Brett Kulak scored with four minutes to play, but that goal was matched by an empty-netter by Michael Raffl.

Claude Julien wanted his team to tighten up on defence and that’s what the Canadiens did in the first period as they limited the Flyers to a single shot on goal.

The Flyers went more than 10 minutes without a shot before Oskar Lindblom tested Niemi with a shot from the slot. Lindblom also had a potential breakaway in the final minute of the period, but Jeff Petry caught him from behind and knocked the puck off his stick. The shot went between Niemi’s outstretched right pad and his glove hand.

There was one change in the forward lines as Charles Hudon replaced Matthew Peca on a line with Joel Armia and Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Hudon and Peca are getting a chance to play because Paul Byron is serving a three-game suspension that concludes with Wednesday’s home game against Arizona.

Peca and Hudon are, in effect, fighting for continued employment in the NHL because one of them will likely be sent down to Laval when Andrew Shaw returns from a neck injury that has sidelined him since New Year’s Eve. Shaw is expected to resume skating in the coming week and should be able to return to the lineup from the All-Star break and their bye week to face New Jersey and Edmonton in the annual Super Bowl weekend matinees.


Leave comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.