Suffering Canadiens withdrawal? The Gazette has the answer with the ultimate fantasy experience as Canadiens beat writer Pat Hickey and Gazette techie Eric Tobon employ EA Sports NHL 13 to produce The Season That Isn’t. Here’s how things might have looked in Thursday night’s game between the Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers at the Bell Centre.
The Canadiens have literally powered their way into first place in the Eastern Conference.
Montreal scored three power-play goals to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in overtime Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
It was the fifth consecutive for the Canadiens, who improved to 5-2 on the season.
Max Pacioretty delivered the winning goal at 2:57 of overtime. The Canadiens were enjoying a 4-on-3 advantage after Wayne Simmonds was whistled off for cross-checking at 2:26.
“That penalty gave us a huge lift,” said Pacioretty, who redirected Tomas Plekabnec’s pass through the crease. “Neither team wanted to take a chance but we were able to open it up with the extra man. I think everyone expected Pleky to shoot but when (Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov) sealed the post on the short side, it left room for the pass to get through.”
“It’s not like the other night when we had 10 power plays and scored on two of them,” said Brian Gionta, who scored twice to tie the game at 1-1 and 2-2. “We had four of our five power plays in the final period and the OT and it was like the puck had eyes.”
The Canadiens had to come from behind twice.
Brayden Schenn gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead when he scored at 14:56 of the first period.
There wasn’t another goal until Gionta scored at 5:21 on a play which showed the Canadiens’ perseverance. Bryzgalov almost lost his head as he raised his blocker in a nick of time to stop a P.K. Subban blast from the blueline. Louis Leblanc’s rebound attempt hit the goaltender’s pad and Gionta was able to tap in the second rebound.
Sean Couturier put the Flyers back in front at 7:18 but Gionta set up the overtime when he scored a power-play goal at 9:10 on a feed from Plekanec.
“I feel more comfortable than I did last year,” said Plekanec. “Gio is healthy and (Scott Gomez) has played well on the left side. There’s been a lot about our lack of size but we used our speed and our skill to create chances tonight and we drew some penalties. That’s something we weren’t doing last season.”
If Subban is bristling over the one-year, $2-million contract he signed on the eve of training camp, it hasn’t shown in his play. He leads the Canadiens in ice time with better than 26 minutes a game. He played a season-high 30:19 against the Flyers.
Canadiens fans will probably have their last chance to see Saku Koivu and Teemu Selanne when they lead the Anaheim Ducks into the Bell Centre on Saturday night.