(Montreal, Quebec) – Tom Kostopoulos scored just 48 seconds into overtime after Montreal tied the game late in regulation, pinning a 4-3 loss on the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at the Bell Centre on Thursday night.
Kostopoulos was able to corral his own rebound and fire it past Martin Biron for the game-winner.
Philadelphia led 3-2 on Joffrey Lupul’s power play goal in the opening seconds of the third, and held off the Canadiens for much of the rest of the period. A kneeing penalty on Mike Richards at 18:51, though, put Montreal on the power play. With goaltender Carey Price pulled for an extra attacker, Jeff Carter’s stick broke on a faceoff in the Flyers’ zone and Alex Kovalev lifted in his second goal of the game at 19:31.
Game 2 is at the Bell Centre on Saturday night (7:00 p.m., Versus).
The Flyers weathered the storm from the fired up Canadiens and their raucous home crowd, with a little help from the goal post. Mike Komisarek snuck a puck through Biron’s five-hole early in the game, and later a blast by Patrice Brisebois rang off the iron behind the Flyers’ goaltender.
Brisebois would get hit the back of the net later in the period, on what would be described as an “own goal” in soccer terms. R.J. Umberger skated along the far boards and threw the puck towards the net looking for Patrick Thoresen, but instead Brisebois tipped it inside the near post to give Philadelphia a 1-0 lead at 13:15.
The fourth line made it 2-0 with just over three minutes left in the frame. Moments after Thoresen hit the post on a rebound attempt, Steve Downie managed to poke the puck out to Jim Dowd in the slot and the veteran ripped a one-timer by Price for his first of the postseason.
"It was our third game in 4 nights and I was really, really happy with the way we responded here tonight. They came at us hard, but we regrouped and we had a good first period," said John Stevens.
"I thought the first period we played pretty well and we didn't give them anything," said Kimmo Timonen. "In the second period, we kind of stopped skating, but we came out in the third period and played hard."
Montreal tied the game in the second period with two goals. Andrei Kostitsyn, who was stopped by Biron on a penalty shot earlier in the frame at 6:32, fired in a wrist shot to get the Canadiens back into the game.
A questionable call at best resulted in the tying goal. On a shorthanded rush, Kovalev appeared to knock a rebound out of midair with a high stick. Referee Don VanMassenhoven called it a goal at the time, and despite video evidence that it was in fact an illegal goal, the call stood.
"I thought his stick hit the top of the net after he hit the puck so logically you would think it was a high stick," said Stevens.
"VanMassenhoven told me that he thought it went off my head,'' said Biron. "That's why I was mad. He was right there. I thought he could have called what he saw but he said he saw it go off my head and then there was another call on the play."
Still, the Flyers continued to struggle when they have a lead. They surrendered two separate two-goal leads in Game 1 and Game 6 against Washington in the first round, and went on to lose them both.
Both goaltenders finished with 30 saves on the night.
Downie played in his second straight game after making his playoff debut in Game 7 against Washington. Riley Cote and Jaroslav Modry did not play. … The Flyers are the first team in 13 years to advance to the conference semifinals after finishing with the worst record in the league the previous year (1994 San Jose Sharks). … The Flyers have yet to allow a playoff goal on a penalty shot in their history (0-for-4). … Richards has a six-game point streak (2g, 5a). … Philadelphia is 1-10 all-time in the playoffs in Montreal. … The Flyers are 12-17 when losing the first game of a seven-game series, including the last round when they fell to Washington.
1 - 0 PHI