Canadiens’ Guillaume Latendresse pings one off the helmet of Flyers’ Joffrey Lupul at the final siren tonight.
Len Redkoles, NHLI via Getty Images
PHILADELPHIA – The Canadiens lost four straight games last season just once. Unfortunately, they came in the Eastern Conference semifinal against the Flyers, who bounced the Habs out of the playoffs.
Revenge, even early in the year, is sweet. The Habs’ losing streak is over now, Montreal beating Philadelphia tonight 5-3 at the Wachovia Center in a rugged, at times dirty game that surely sets the table for the season series between the two clubs.
The Canadiens earned five of a possible six points in their three-game, season-opening road swing. They returned home immediately after the game, will have Tuesday off then face the Boston Bruins at the Bell Centre on Wednesday, their home-opener.
Centreman Robert Lang scored tonight’s eventual winner, banging a short shot past Flyers goalie Martin Biron after some industrious work by eye-popping linemate Sergei Kostitsyn at 13:40 of the third period.
Defenceman Mike Komisarek bagged his first goal of the season at 2:02 of the third, his long shot tipped past Flyers goalie Martin Biron by Philadelphia defender Scottie Upshall to put Montreal up 3-2.
Simon Gagné of the Flyers made it 4-3 with 5:16 to play on the power-play, but Steve Bégin iced the Canadiens win with an empty-netter with 35 seconds left on the clock.
The Flyers outshot their visitors 32-27. The game featured 46 minutes in penalties, 26 to the Canadiens; Guillaume Latendresse, at the final siren, and Maxim Lapierre dropped their gloves to earn fighting majors.
Unexpected Habs sniper Roman Hamrlik, evidently unaware that he’s a defenceman, scored his second goal of the season from very close range, pinching in to tip home a lovely pass from Alex Kovalev at 1:18 of the third to pull the Canadiens into a 2-2 tie.
Andrei Kostitsyn had showed his physical and sharpshooting sides in a single shift with the ice still wet in the second period to open the scoring.
First he belted the Flyers captain Mike Richards to the ice at the Philadelphia blue line, then picked up a feed from Andrei Markov and snapped a hard shot past Biron at 54 seconds for his first goal of the season.
The lead lasted less than two minutes, Jeff Carter getting it back on a long shot past Habs goalie Carey Price at 2:46. And Richards followed that up with a power-play blast from a stride inside the blue line at 4:15, nicely set up by Daniel Brièr, to give the Flyers their one and only lead of the night.
You’ll not see a more wonderful save than Price made midway through the second, a Flyers’ wraparound attempt hitting the skate of Habs’ Tomas Plekanec and bouncing netward. But Price, sprawling on his back, gloved the puck and smothered it between his legs, replays clearly showing the save.