Flyers bring resurgent offense into Montreal
MONTREAL -- Feeling confident after a comeback win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, the Philadelphia Flyers will face one of their toughest tests of the young season when they visit the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.
The Flyers (2-2-1) found their offensive groove again with six goals in the win over the Hurricanes and are now averaging 3.8 goals per game. Montreal is averaging four goals, which leads the NHL.
"They have excellent team speed, especially their group of forwards," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol told the Philadelphia Inquirer of the Canadiens. "They play with a lot of pace."
Trailing 2-0 early in the second period on Saturday, the Flyers rallied for four straight before skating away with a 6-3 victory. While winger Jakub Voracek paced the offense with two goals and an assist, rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov came through with two key assists on goals that tied the game and provided Philadelphia with a lead it would never relinquish.
It was a bounce-back night for the 19-year-old after some tough outings on both sides of the puck, helped along by a teammate just one year removed from freshman status.
"He was down after a few games," second-year defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere told CSNPhilly.com. "I didn't really tell him much other than, 'Hey, we've got 79 more of these.' I told him to keep his head up and he'll get over it.
"He's a hell of a player and sometimes you don't get all of the bounces. He's a great player as you guys could see."
The Canadiens extended their winning streak to three games with a 4-1 triumph over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night. But while names like Pacioretty, Radulov, Gallagher and Galchenyuk are the ones teams try to keep a close eye on, it was the unlikely sources who delivered on offense in the latest win.
Philip Danault, Torrey Mitchell and Paul Byron joined Brendan Gallagher on the scoresheet, giving Montreal 13 different players who have scored this season.
"We need that," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said after the game. "We knew it was a character game, and it really was outstanding (against Boston)."
While Montreal is putting the puck in seemingly with ease, opponents haven't been able to do the same at the other end. Back-up goaltender Al Montoya held the fort through the first three games and Carey Price looks like his old self in two appearances since returning from illness. The result is a league-best 1.60 goals-against average.
It's been a tougher road for the Flyers in their own end, averaging 3.8 goals against. Netminders Steve Mason and Michal Neuvirth carry well-below average statistics into the week, with Mason's 3.35 goals-against average and .882 save percentage holding a slight edge over Neuvirth's 4.24 goals-against and .854 save percentage.
If there's an area that could use improvement on Montreal's end, it's the power play. While the man advantage has looked better than years past under associate coach Kirk Muller's guidance, the team only connected three times on 21 opportunities, tied for sixth-most chances in the NHL.
Former Canadiens forward Dale Weise won't get the chance to face his former team as he serves the second of a three-game suspension for a hit last week.
The Flyers could have fresh legs coming into the line-up this week as defenseman Michael Del Zotto and forward Scott Laughton joined the team for practice on Sunday and will travel to Montreal and partake in the club's morning skate. Both players have been on injured reserve since opening night.