The fortunes of the Montreal Canadiens depend heavily on goalkeeper Jaroslav Halak. While he was less than stellar in Games 1 and 2, he returned to the form we’ve come to know in Game 3, as the Habs crushed the Philadelphia Flyers 5–1 at the Bell Centre on Thursday.
Philadelphia now leads the best of seven series 2–1.
Montreal could not afford to lose Game 3 and they played with the desperation that got them through series against Washington and Pittsburgh.
Finally, the Canadiens cracked Flyers goalie Michael Leighton. Leighton, who shut out Montreal for 172 minutes, was beaten by Montreal’s main marksman Michael Cammalleri in the first period. The goal was Cammalleri’s 13th of the playoffs.
That first goal was huge for Montreal who made some adjustments to the lineup by bringing back Benoit Pouliot and Ryan O’Byrne. These two bigger players matched up well with Philadelphia’s rugged style of play.
“We were confident. We made adjustments that brought fruit,” said Montreal head coach Jacques Martin in an interview with RDS.
Nothing worked for the Flyers at the Bell Centre. Their passes were off the mark, they were undisciplined, and Leighton didn’t make the incredible saves he did in Game 1 and especially Game 2. Defensemen Chris Pronger and Matt Carle were both -3 for the night.
Defenseman Roman Hamrlik and partner P.K. Subban were dominant on the blue line and in the Flyers end. Both ended the night +4 and had a combined five assists. Hamrlik even dropped the gloves with Scott Hartnell late in the third.
Montreal got important contributions from their third line as Dominic Moore and Tom Pyatt each had a goal and an assist.
“They [third line] played a big role tonight,” said Martin.
“The 20 guys worked hard tonight. Guys are encouraged and we have to redouble efforts for Saturday afternoon.”
The loss for the Flyers puts an end to a six-game winning streak and 13-goal scoring streak.
Simon Gagne got his seventh goal of the playoffs late in the third period to break Halak’s shutout bid.
Game 4 goes Saturday afternoon at the Bell Centre.