Flyers Stifle Canadiens for 10th Straight Win in Philadelphia
The Flyers have come far since their franchise-worst start.
The Flyers have now won ten games in a row on home ice, dominating the Montreal Canadiens in a 3-1 win on Wednesday night. Their last loss? A 3-0 loss to New Jersey on November 7.
Two first period goals, as well as three assists from Slovakian Olympian Andrej Meszaros led the way for the Flyers, who continue to cement a spot among the Metropolitan Division's top teams.
Coming off of a successful road trip of five wins in six games, that momentum carried into a complete 60 minute effort to trip up a strong Canadiens team. GM Paul Holmgren announced that Matt Read would miss more time. Even without him, the Flyers have now won three of four games.
Meszaros' setup of Michael Raffl's goal in the second period proved how dominant the Flyers were all night. Meszaros swept through three Canadiens defenders before forcing a shot on goal. Raffl swept the loose rebound upstairs past Canadiens netminder Peter Budaj to take a 3-0 lead.
It was Meszaros' first three-point game since March 1, 2012, and his first three assist game since March 2, 2006, according to NHL.com's Matt Sitkoff.
"He has played good hockey," head coach Craig Berube said of Meszaros. "He has come in and played really well since [Erik Gustafsson] went down."
Sean Couturier and Zac Rinaldo also scored for the Flyers in the first period. Rinaldo scored his first goal since last March, and Couturier snapped an eight-game goalless drought.
"It was great getting that monkey off my back," Rinaldo said. "It's about time, too."
Slump busters, indeed. Perhaps the only thing left needing busting is a home power play that could not connect on three opportunities.
Not much has gone wrong for the Flyers lately. As a whole, the Habs were held without a shot for most of the third period, as well as a ten minute stretch in the first period. Flyers starter Steve Mason only made 19 saves, and saw his defense block 21 shots.
"We have to play like that every night," Meszaros said. "It's just one game. It was a good night, but the most important thing is that we won."
Montreal's Tomas Plekanec, ever pesky against the Flyers with 24 points in 33 games, made it 25 points with a late second period goal. On a Flyers power play, Plekanec broke on a 2-on-1 with Brian Gionta, ripping a shot over Mason's blocker.
Other than a chaotic final ten minutes, that goal proved to be everything Montreal could muster against Mason. Flyers penalty killers kept a top-ten power play empty. They have not surrendered a power play goal in 2014.
"They're confident guys now," Berube said of his team. "They believe they can win."
A team with just one win in its first eight games has now vaulted to second place in the Metropolitan Division. Perhaps more incredible than a ten-game home winning streak is that fact—that this is possible at all in the first place.