Flyers-Canadiens Preview

The Philadelphia Flyers haven’t questioned their ability to be

the best team in the NHL.

After beating their biggest rival to earn the best record in the

league, the Flyers won’t have much time to savor the victory.

Philadelphia travels to the Bell Centre on Wednesday night to

face the Montreal Canadiens, who look to avoid a season-high third

straight loss.

The Flyers (20-7-5) snapped Pittsburgh’s 12-game winning streak

with a 3-2 victory Tuesday. Philadelphia, which has a league-best

45 points, moved past the Penguins atop the Atlantic Division.

Scott Hartnell’s power-play goal 9:54 into the third period was

only his second tally in 15 games, but helped Philadelphia improve

to 5-0-1 in its last six.

“It’s the battle of Pennsylvania,” Hartnell said. “It was a big

measuring game.”

Now, the Flyers hope to avoid a letdown in Montreal, where

they’ve lost six of their last eight, while looking to improve

their 4-1-2 record in the second game of back-to-backs this

season.

Claude Giroux and Nikolay Zherdev also scored against the

Penguins and Brian Boucher, who beat Montreal 3-2 on Nov. 22, made

21 saves for his fifth victory in six starts.

“We talk about trying to get the top spot, trying to be the best

in the league, and tonight was one of those opportunities where we

could do it ourselves,” coach Peter Laviolette told the NHL’s

official website. “It puts you where you want to be, but you get to

enjoy it for about three minutes and then move on and start

thinking about Montreal. That’s going to be a tough game.”

It’ll be especially tough if the Canadiens continue their solid

play against the Flyers.

Montreal (18-10-2) beat Philadelphia 3-0 on Nov. 16, then scored

the first two goals before falling in the teams’ most recent

meeting. The victory was one of four shutouts for Carey Price, who

was rested in the Canadiens’ 3-1 loss Saturday against Toronto.

Price is 5-1-1 with a 1.71 goals-against average in his last

seven and should expect to start against the Flyers. He’s 6-2-0

with a 1.81 GAA against Philadelphia in his career.

Montreal has lost two straight after going 4-0-1 in its previous

five. Mike Cammalleri, who scored in the win against the Flyers,

recorded his team-leading 11th goal and his third in the last four

games Saturday.

The Canadiens hope a three-day rest between games will provide

an energy boost. Coach Jacques Martin said his team looked tired in

giving up two first-period goals to the Maple Leafs.

“It was kind of a slow start, they jumped on us,” Martin said.

“We didn’t win enough individual battles.”

Scott Gomez, who has missed the past two games with a lower-body

injury, said after practice Tuesday his decision to play against

Philadelphia hinges on the pre-game skate.

“I feel a lot better,” Gomez told the Canadiens’ official

website. “We’ll try the pre-game (Wednesday) and we’ll see what

we’ve got. It’s good to get back out there with the guys and see

how it reacts.”

After scoring 12 goals with a team-high 47 assists last season,

Gomez is struggling in 2010-11. He has four goals and five assists

in 28 games.