Flyers look to make it seven straight
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW...
FLYERS (19-7-3) at CANADIENS (13-11-7)
1. HOT HOT HOT
The Flyers come into tonight's game riding a season-high six-game winning streak during which they have scored a total of 26 goals at an average of 4.33 goals-per-game.
2. TWO DOWN - TWO TO GO
This is the third of four meetings of the season thus far with each team winning on home ice… The Canadiens took the first meeting at the Bell Centre by a score of 5-1 on Oct. 26… The Flyers returned the favor on their annual Black Friday game with a 3-1 victory on Nov. 25… The two clubs don't meet again until late in March (Mar. 24).
3. JUST STARTING…
After dropping six of seven games, the Canadiens have won their last two contests, both over Atlantic Division opponents (2-1 at NJ & 5-3 vs. NYI).
4. Player to watch FLYERS: Scott Hartnell
Hartnell is currently on a career-high six-game goal-scoring streak, which ties Patric Hornqvist of Nashville as the longest goal-scoring streak in the league this season… He will attempt to tie his career-high for overall consecutive games with a point in tonight's game.
5. Player to watch CANADIENS: Tomas Kaberle
Since coming over to the Habs in a trade from the Carolina Hurricanes, Kaberle has recorded points in both games he has played in, recording three assists in the process… He also recorded points in his last two games as a Hurricane giving him a four-game point streak in which he has seven assists in that span.
TV: NHLN-US, TSN, RDS (HD), CSN-PH
Philadelphia 8-2-0; Montreal 4-2-4
This is the third meeting in a four-game season series that will conclude March 24 in Philadelphia. The home team has won each of the first two matchups, with Montreal prevailing 5-1 on Oct. 26 and the Flyers winning 3-1 on Nov. 25.
Montreal is 2-0-0 since acquiring defenseman Tomas Kaberle from Carolina and is looking to maintain a consistent pace after winning two straight for the first time in a month. The Flyers, meanwhile, have been rolling through the Eastern Conference, but are now dealing with injuries to two of their most important players.
Winners of six in a row and eight of its last nine, Philadelphia has yet to lose in December following a 7-3-2 record in November. The team still has yet to lose three or more games consecutively this season and has been among the League's top teams through the first third of the season. But that journey toward the playoffs didn't get any easier when captain Chris Pronger
and leading scorer Claude Giroux
both went down with concussion-like symptoms.
Missing both of these key pieces to the lineup, Philadelphia entered an important part of its schedule in which it will play seven of eight games on the road to close out December before starting 2012 as hosts of the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 2 at Citizens Bank Park. Opening up this travel-heavy stretch Tuesday night in Washington, the Flyers didn't appear to miss a beat, as they raced out to a 5-0 lead courtesy of goals from five different players. Only Jeff Halpern's goal with 6:01 left in regulation kept Ilya Bryzgalov
from earning his second shutout of the season.
Despite their troubling tendency of late for blowing third-period leads, Montreal still has yet to lose a game in regulation in December. With their flailing power play ranked near the bottom of the League, they made the move for Kaberle last Friday, dispatching veteran defenseman Jaroslav Spacek to the Hurricanes. Kaberle paid instant dividends for les Habitants, registering 2 assists in his first game with the team in a 2-1 win over the Devils on Saturday.
While Kaberle was the story of the game, the win can be credited mostly to goaltender Carey Price, who stopped Zach Parise on a potential game-tying penalty shot with just 47 seconds remaining in regulation.
Tuesday night at home against the Islanders, Montreal carried a 3-1 lead into the third but again showed difficulty maintaining that edge. Third-period goals from Josh Bailey and John Tavares allowed the Islanders to tie the game 3-3, but Petteri Nokelainen scored just 2:17 after Tavares' marker to give Montreal a lead it wouldn't relinquish. Kaberle provided an assist in the game and Montreal posted back-to-back wins for the first time since Nov. 10-12.
Who's Hot: Scott Hartnell
has been an offensive force for Philadelphia, tallying goals in six straight games. Danny Briere
and Jaromir Jagr
both have 8 points in their last six games. … For the Canadiens, Erik Cole has scored in three straight games while Max Pacioretty has 5 points in his last five games.
Pronger and Giroux aren't the only Flyers out with concussions. Brayden Schenn
has a mild concussion that has put him on IR, along with Blair Betts
(bone bruise) and Andreas Lilja
(ankle). Schenn and Lilja did return to practice on Wednesday. … For Montreal, Travis Moen is questionable for Thursday while Andrei Markov (knee), Ryan White (sports hernia), Scott Gomez (groin), and Brian Gionta (lower body) are on IR.
While the Kaberle trade was considered a controversial one for the Canadiens in light of his contract and disappointing performance so far this season, the team's power play has improved since the deal. Montreal has scored on the power play in both games since Kaberle's arrival, the first time it has hit paydirt with the man advantage in consecutive games since doing so in four straight games from Nov 14-19. The power play still ranks 28th in the League ahead of only St. Louis and Phoenix.
With 15 goals through 29 games, Hartnell is already halfway toward matching his career high of 30, which he posted in the 2008-09 season. He has also been an absolute workhorse in Philadelphia, missing just three games since coming to the Flyers before the 2007-08 season.