Philadelphia (1) vs Montreal (8): It’s Going to Be A Tight One!
After a dominate performance in game 2, less than 24 hours after their coach was rushed to the hospital, Montreal proved to the hockey world that they belong in this tournament. They knew after beating the Flyers handily that Philadelphia would be looking to respond. The Flyers had their own emotional boost as Oscar Lindblom rejoined his teammates Sunday morning after cancer treatments. With this boost the, Flyers were looking to seize control of the series.
Both teams started as focused and engaged in this game than as any in the series so far. Both teams looked to try and seize control of the momentum early on, with the Flyers grabbing it when they scored just over 5 minutes into the game. What seemed to be a harmless faceoff win ended up in the back of the net. Claude Giroux threw a puck towards the goal where it bounced off Voracek’s stick and body to sneak past Price. Voracek did seem to bump Carey Price, but Muller made the wise call not to challenge for interference as it most likely would have resulted in a delay of game penalty with the Flyers up 1-0. From that point on in the period the Canadiens began to take penalties. It started with a non-existent high-sticking call on Jesperi Kotkaniemi and continued with a parade to the box. After the first period the score was still 1-0, but Montreal had looked like the better team 5-on-5.
Montreal came out in the second period looking to regain the momentum. It was their turn this time to attack and if it weren’t for two post shots by Kotkaniemi and one for each of Kulak and Suzuki, the game would have been tied. Montreal’s assault on the Flyers zone turned the tide and now it was Philadelphia’s turn to march towards the box with a steady stream of penalties. This is where Carter Hart proved he was up to the task; while his team blocked 23 shots in front of him during game three, Hart proved to be up to every challenge, stopping all pucks that got past his defensemen. This started to show as Montreal looked to be getting frustrated in a hurry.
That frustration level only increased in the third period as the Flyers came out looking to clog the middle and grind down the period. Muller tried double shifting his offensive lines, putting the Suzuki and Kotkaniemi line out almost every time there was an offensive zone draw. Trying to spark something for his team, it was with a little over half the period left that Muller went to the blender and started shifting his lines around. At that point in the game, it was too little too late and Philadelphia continued to stymie them. At the end of the game, the score read 1-0; Hart had his first of what will be many career playoff shutouts and the flyers are walking away with a 2-1 series lead.
Although the game didn’t go in Montreal’s favour, there was a lot to like about this performance. After an embarrassing loss by Philadelphia, they knew the Flyers were going to come out strong. This was supposed to be the best version of the Flyers team we have seen all series and yes, they did come away after this one winning the battle. It took a lucky bounce and 4 posts for them to escape with the win and this war is far from over. If that was the best the Flyers can play, Montreal has to like their chances.