NHL Game Summary - Philadelphia at Montreal
(Thursday, November 1st)
Final Score: Montreal 5, Philadelphia 2
Montreal, QC (Sports Network) - Montreal captain Saku Koivu had a goal and an assist, brushing aside criticism directed his way earlier in the week, as the Canadiens beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 5-2, at the Bell Centre.
The Finnish Koivu, who had endured scrutiny after failing to speak French in pre-recorded features shown on the video scoreboard before games, did so Thursday night while introducing the Canadiens lineup.
The crowd cheered as Koivu said "ici Saku Koivu, voici mon equipe" (translated as, "Saku Koivu here, this is my team") before reading out the Canadiens lineup in a mix of English and French.
Alex Kovalev, Tom Kostopoulos, Guillaume Latendresse and Christopher Higgins also scored for Montreal, which has won five of its last six games. Cristobal Huet finished with 17 saves in the victory, improving to 3-0-1 all-time against Philly.
"They (the Flyers) are a good team," said Koivu. "They have some size, they have some skill and they play hard. But tonight we got the jump and played our game. We didn't turn the puck over at all, and we kept the puck in their zone a lot and it paid off."
Mike Richards and Scottie Upshall each scored for the Flyers, who failed to pull even at the midpoint of their season-high eight-game road trip after starting with losses to Florida and Tampa Bay before Saturday's 2-1 win in Boston.
Daniel Briere assisted on Richards' goal, but took heat from the sellout crowd of 21,273 after turning down Montreal's contract offer to ink a free agent deal with Philadelphia in the offseason.
"It wasn't fun, but I was motivated by the fans booing," said Briere, who was jeered every time he touched the puck. "Early on I was pumped up. You can't get motivated like that in every building. It was exciting. It was a great atmosphere to play in, but obviously I'm disappointed with the way we played, with the result. It was not a good effort on our part."
Martin Biron allowed all five goals while facing 41 shots, as Philadelphia lost for the fourth time in five trips to Montreal after winning six straight.
The Habs struck first, courtesy of a delayed penalty call on Philadelphia defenseman Rory Fitzpatrick. With hockey already four-aside, Koivu weaved his way through the right circle, split traffic and wristed a shot past a screened Biron at 8:53, giving the Canadiens the early lead.
Philadelphia then tied it up with 3:10 remaining in the front stanza, as Richards took a quick feed from Briere, knocked a backhand shot off the legs of a Canadiens defenseman and watched the puck trickle over the goal line with the Flyers skating on the man-advantage.
Kovalev put the Canadiens back on top with a power-play tally in the second period, mirroring Koivu's earlier tally. The right winger had all the time in the world, holding the puck along the boards, plowing through traffic in the right circle and wristing it past Biron at 7:28.
Kostopoulos then upped it to 3-1 when he lit the lamp short-handed at 11:38, while Biron kept it a two-goal game for Philadelphia when he turned aside Roman Hamrlik's penalty shot attempt less than two minutes later.
Montreal pulled away at 8:21 of the third when Koivu streaked toward the net and put a pass off the skate of Latendresse before the disc deflected into the net to make it 4-1.
Higgins' tip-in goal on the two-man advantage capped the scoring for Montreal with 3:18 to play, while Upshall notched his first of the season for Philadelphia with 28 seconds remaining in the contest. It was the right winger's first game back since fracturing his wrist in the preseason.
Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher underwent successful surgery on his right knee Thursday and will miss approximately four weeks...Center Simon Gagne missed his third straight game with concussion-like symptoms and did not pass a baseline test administered Thursday afternoon...Defenseman Randy Jones was serving the first of his two-game NHL suspension handed down Monday for his violent hit on Boston's Patrice Begeron in the Flyers' 2-1 win on Saturday... Flyers GM Paul Holgren announced the signing of Patrick Maroon, who was drafted by the club in the sixth round of the 2007 Entry Draft...Philadelphia was 2-for-6 on the power play, while Montreal ended 2-for-5.
11/01 23:12:23 ET