GAME 15: FLYERS VS. CANADIENS
In the final game of a three-game homestand, Alain Vigneault's Philadelphia Flyers (7-5-2) host Claude Julien's Montreal Canadiens (8-5-2) on Tuesday night. Game time at the Wells Fargo Center is 7 p.m. ET.
The game will be televised on NBCSP. The radio broadcast will be on 97.5 The Fanatic (or 93.3 WMMR) with an online simulcast on Flyers Radio 24/7
This is the first of three meetings between the teams this season. They will rematch in Montreal on Nov. 30 and back in Philadelphia on Jan. 16. Last season, the Flyers went 1-2-0 against the Habs.
Thus far, if one includes being the designated home team in the season opener in Prague against Chicago, the Flyers are 5-1-1 at home and 2-4-1 on the road. For a look inside some of the key stats that have driven the Flyers' strong start in home games, click here
On Tuesday, strong goaltending and a three-goal outburst in the third period lifted the Flyers to a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Carter Hart was excellent in net, stopping 32 of 33 shots. A first-period power play goal by Sean Couturier (4th) was supplemented by third period goals by Travis Konecny (7th), Joel Farabee (2nd) and Claude Giroux (4th).
Through 14 games, Konecny leads the Flyers offensively with 15 points (7g, 8a). He is followed by Oskar Lindblom (7g, 5a), Jakub Voracek (4g, 7a), Claude Giroux (4g, 7a), Sean Couturier (4g, 6a), and Ivan Provorov (3g, 6a). The NHL made a scoring change on Konecny's game-winning goal on Saturday, adding a primary assist for Lindblom, changing Matt Niskanen's primary assist to a secondary (he has 2g, 6a) and removing an initially credited secondary assist for Couturier.
On Wednesday, the Flyers made a roster move. After a three-game recall, they returned 2016 first-round pick German Rubtsov to the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms and brought back center Mikhail Vorobyev. At practice, Vorobyev centered a line with Michael Raffl and Tyler Pitlick.
Entering Thursday's game, the Flyers have averaged 3.29 goals per game with allowing 3.14 per game. The power play comes in at 24.1 percent and the penalty kill at 83.7 percent. The team has won faceoffs at a 55.8 percent clip.
The Canadiens bring a 4-2-2 road record into this game. The team has won four of its last five games overall.
On Tuesday in Montreal, the Habs prevailed, 5-4, against Boston. The game was Julien's 1,200th as an NHL head coach. Victor Mete (2g), Tomas Tatar (1g, 1a) and Ben Chiarot (1g, 1a) had two-point games. Paul Byron scored on the shift after Tatar's goal, giving Montreal a 3-1 lead at the time before the Bruins battled back.
With the score tied at 4-4 early in the third period, the Bruins appeared to take a lead at 5:23 on a would-be goal by Charlie Coyle. The Canadiens challenged the goal, claiming offside, and the goal was overturned. The play led to debate over what constitutes puck possession.
Carey Price had been on a roll heading into Tuesday's game, stopping 97 of 103 shots (.941 save percentage) over his previous three starts. The game against Boston wasn't statistically his best -- 21 saves on 25 shots -- but he earned his seventh win of the season. Overall, Price is 7-4-0 with a 2.75 GAA, .910 SV% and one shutout.
Brendan Gallagher, a frequent Flyers nemesis, is tied for the Canadiens scoring lead (7g, 6a, 13pts) with Tatar (5g, 8a). They are followed by Jonathan Drouin (7g, 5a), Max Domi (4g, 7a), Joel Armia (6g, 4a) and veteran defensemen Shea Weber (2g, 8) and Jeff Petry (2g, 8a). Highly touted youngster Nick Suzuki (3g, 3a) has chipped in six points. Another very well-regarded young player, 2018 first-round pick Jesperi Kotkaniemi, is on injured reserve with a groin strain. The Finn has posted three points (2g, 1a) in 12 games.
Prior to departing for Philadelphia, the Canadiens held practice on Wednesday at their Bell Sports Complex training center in Brossard, Quebec. Weber, Petry and forward Nate Thompson (0g, 5a) all took maintenance days but are expected to play against the Flyers. Kotkaniemi was a full participant in practice for the first time since going on IR. He made the trip to Philadelphia with the team but it is unlikely he'll be cleared to play after just one full-fledged practice.
Gallagher took a shot off his hand in the third period of Tuesday's game -- the same hand in which he has a surgical plate -- but returned to the game after having it x-rayed. He is expected to be in the lineup.
Entering Thursday's game, the Canadiens have averaged 3.67 goals per game with allowing 3.20 per game. The power play comes in at 20.0 percent and the penalty kill at 68.9 percent. The team has won faceoffs at a 47.6 percent clip.
PROJECTED LINEUPS (subject to change)
25 James van Riemsdyk - 28 Claude Giroux - 49 Joel Farabee
23 Oskar Lindblom - 14 Sean Couturier - 11 Travis Konecny
81 Carsen Twarynski - 13 Kevin Hayes - 92 Jakub Voracek
12 Michael Raffl - 24 Mikhail Vorobyev - 18 Tyler Pitlick
9 Ivan Provorov - 15 Matt Niskanen
53 Shayne Gostisbehere - 61 Justin Braun
6 Travis Sanheim - 5 Phil Myers
79 Carter Hart
[37 Brian Elliott]
Power Play 1: Giroux, JVR, Farabee, Provorov, Voracek
Power Play 2: Couturier, Lindblom, Konecny, Gostisbehere, Niskanen
Scratches: 8 Robert Hägg (healthy), 44 Chris Stewart (healthy)
Injured reserve: 21 Scott Laughton (broken right index finger)
Injured non-roster: 19 Nolan Patrick (migraines)
90 Tomas Tatar - 24 Phillip Danault - 11 Brendan Gallagher
92 Jonathan Drouin - 13 Max Domi - 40 Joel Armia
62 Artturi Lehkonen - 25 Ryan Poehling - 41 Paul Byron
21 Nick Cousins - 44 Nate Thompson - 14 Nick Suzuki
53 Victor Mete - 6 Shea Weber
8 Ben Chiarot - 26 Jeff Petry
28 Mike Reilly - 20 Cale Fleury
31 Carey Price
[37 Keith Kinkaid]
Power Play 1: Tatar, Danault, Gallagher, Drouin, Weber
Power Play 2: Cousins, Domi, Armia, Suzuki, Petry
Scratches: 17 Brett Kulak (healthy), 32 Christian Folin (healthy), 43 Jordan Weal (healthy)
Injured reserve: Jesperi Kotkaniemi (groin)
Phantoms Down WB/S
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms skated to a 4-2 win over the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins at the PPL Center in Allentown on Wednesday night. The game was nationally televised, with NHL Network picking up the Service Electric broadcast.
The teams traded off one goal apiece in the first and second periods before Kyle Criscuolo (2g, 1a) put the Phantoms ahead to stay with 1:40 left in the middle frame. Lehigh Valley staved off a pair of penalties in the third period. Finally, after the Phantoms twice iced the puck trying for empty net goals, Criscuolo found the vacant cage to ice the victory.
Back in the first period, Jake Lucchini converted a pair of Phantoms turnovers by the Morgan Frost line -- first on a pass in the WB/S end and then a defensive zone turnover -- into a short-side goal from a bad angle to make it a 1-0 game.
The Phantoms got the goal back quickly. Defenseman Mark Friedman got hit from behind into the glass and partner Nate Prosser dropped the gloves with Ryan Haggarty on his behalf (sacrificing himself to 17 minutes worth of penalties). Between Haggarty's boarding minor and Prosser's instigator penalty, the two teams skated at 4-on-4.
On the ensuing first faceoff, Criscuolo won the right circle draw cleanly to T.J. Brennan, who rotated the puck D-to-D over to Andy Welinski. Scoring his first goal as a Phantom, Welinski blasted a shot home past Casey DeSmith (27 saves on 30 shots).
In the second period, before Criscuolo's eventual game-winner, Greg Carey (3rd) scored after a lead pass by Brennan to give the Phantoms a short-lived 2-1 lead. Haggarty answered 2:33 later to get the score knotted again at 2-2.
J-F Berube earned the win in goal for the Phantoms, stopping 22 of 24 shots. The Phantoms went 0-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-3 on the penalty kill.
Wednesday's game was a rough one for Frost, apart from seeing his point streak end at seven games and being minus-two. He did not have his feet moving consistently in the first two periods and ended up chasing the play a bit. The rookie also committed what proved to be a costly turnover in the sequence leading up to the game's first goal. Frost did have a few strong shifts in the third period. Head coach Scott Gordon shuffled his linemates around a bit, as Frost started with Andy Andreoff and fellow rookie Isaac Ratcliffe. David Kase was then moved back onto the line.
Among the Phantoms' first-year pros, rookie winger Maksim Sushko arguably played the strongest game on Wednesday. He was solid on both sides of the puck, and did some good work during Lehigh Valley's two penalty kills in the third period.
Sent down by the Flyers earlier in the day, German Rubtsov was in the Phantoms lineup on Wednesday and went right back to playing in every game situation (Frost, conversely, is not yet used on the PK at the AHL level nor yet entrusted by Gordon to protect late leads). Rubtsov did not get on the scoresheet but had five shots on goal. In the third period, he had a nice takeaway on a backchecking play. On the negative side, he took a boarding penalty in the third period with the Phantoms leading by a goal.
Samuel Morin made his third conditioning assignment appearance for the Phantoms. He has been mostly keeping things simple due to all the time he's missed over the last two seasons. With 5:44 left in the second period, Morin received a hit in the corner from Anthony Angello. The defenseman went in awkwardly and was flexing his right leg as he left the ice. He did not return for the third period. It is unclear as of this writing if that was strictly precautionary or if Morin is injured.