Bill Meltzer: Flyers-Habs Wrapup: Unable to Cling to Lead, Flyers Settle for One Point

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The Philadelphia Flyers were unable to nurse a 1-0 lead through the latter half of a fast-paced game at the Bell Centre in Montreal and settled for one point in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Canadiens on Tuesday night. Coupled with the Boston Bruins’ regulation loss to the Dallas Stars, the Flyers inched to eight points back in the race for the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Flyers were unable to supplement a line-rush goal by Matt Read scored in the opening minute of the first period. Ray Emery was outstanding in net, stopping 39 of 41 shots in a losing cause. Winning goalie Carey Price turned back 23 of 24 shots.

Tomas Plekanec broke up Emery’s shutout bid at 12:38 of the third period, scoring from the slot after Emery was not quite able to hang onto the puck in a scramble around the crease. David Desharnais scored the game-winner at 3:27 of overtime on a second-chance shot he chipped over Emery after defenseman Michael Del Zotto was unable to get to the puck.

Read’s goal, scored 51 seconds after the opening faceoff, was a tracer high to the long side over Price. Simmonds took P.K. Subban to the net with him on the rush and helped provide a screen as well as the lone assist.

The Flyers had plenty of chances to extend the lead over the first 30 minutes. Chances became increasingly sparse over the latter half of the game as Montreal began to attack in waves.

Claude Giroux was unable to finish off a breakaway on a delayed penalty in the first period (which proved to be the only Flyers power play of the game). Jakub Voracek didn’t get much on a tight-angle shot on a 2-on-1 feed from Giroux. Sean Couturier had a one-on-one look at the net against Price but the goalie knocked it away easily. Scott Laughton had a good scoring chance but hit the post. These missed opportunities would come back to haunt the Flyers.

After playing a defensively suffocating first period, the Flyers increasingly had trouble getting the puck over the blueline. All semblance of forechecking disappeared and the Flyers started to have too many failed cleared, which severely limited breakout chances.

The Flyers went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. Players did a good job at sacrificing their bodies to block shots — including five by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare among the 25 credited to the team. Emery made numerous clutch saves.

Even so, the end result began to feel more and more inevitable. After the Flyers outshot Montreal by a 9-7 margin in the first period, the Habs outshot the Flyers by a 17-10 margin in a track meet of a second period and utterly dominated the puck possession battles in outshooting the Flyers by 12-4 margin in the third period and 5-1 in overtime. In terms of shot attempts, the Flyers attempted 44 (24 on goal, 14 blocked, six missed) to a veritable shooting gallery of 90 shot attempts (41 shots, 25 shots, 24 bocks) by Montreal.

Plain and simple, the Flyers spent way too much time in their own of the ice in the latter part of the game. A one-goal lead was probably not going to be enough, and it wasn’t.

POSTGAME NOTES

* The Flyers return to action on Friday night in Columbus.

* Luke Schenn was a late scratch due to an upper-body injury. He is officially day-to-day. Carlo Colaiacovo started in his place, skating 12:57 over 21 shifts.

* The Flyers were credited with 30 hits to 15 credited hits for Montreal.

* The Habs controlled the faceoff circle, winning 34 of 61 draws (56 percent). However, Claude Giroux went 14-for-24 (58 percent).

* The official word on Steve Mason, reported earlier today, is that he will be out approximately two to three weeks. Although the team did not divulge any additional information, numerous reports indicate that the Flyers’ top goaltender underwent successful arthroscopic surgery on his right knee (possibly to repair a meniscus tear).

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