By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
PHILADELPHIA-With the Flyers having to climb over several teams to get the eighth and final playoff spot in the NHL’s Western Conference, every game is virtually a must win with 12 games left on the schedule.
All that basically means the Flyers, who are 13th in the NHL’s Eastern Conference standings, have no margin for error at this point in the season.
“The only thing we can control right now is our games and we have to make sure we win them,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette.
While their chances for the postseason may be slim and none, they at least have a pulse at this point.
The Flyers (16-17-3) came back from a one goal deficit late by scoring three goals in the final five minutes of the game and came away with a 5-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens in front of 19,882 fans at the Wells Fargo Center Wednesday night.
“Certainly, it’s an area that we haven’t been good at up until this point,” Laviolette. “So it’s nice to see some results in the third period, putting games away or coming back in games and getting the points and the wins that we need.”
For the first time this season, the Flyers have won three in a row and they are now four points out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We got find ways to get two points every night,” said center Sean Couturier, who scored his goal in 27 games in the second period. “The past two games are an example of our character and getting those two points.”
With the game going into its final five minutes, the Flyers trailed 3-2 and seemed on their way to certain defeat. But like their overtime win over the Washington Capitals on Sunday, they exploded to score two goals in a space of a two and a half minutes late in the third period.
“We’re winning battles and making better decisions with the puck,” said center Claude Giroux, who had an assist on what turned out to be the game-winning goal. “I don’t know. We’re having more fun playing that third period. Sometimes we’re down and we want it so badly that we keep working and we get couple of bounces in.”
Right Winger Wayne Simmonds tied the game with 5:06 left when he deflected a shot by Bruno Gervais past Canadiens goalie Carey Price.
Flyers defenseman Erik Gustafson got the winning goal when he deflected in a shot by Claude Giroux, who got the assist on the play. The Flyers would add an empty net goal by right winger Jakub Voracek.
“To have the poise and patience to do that, it’s a young player stepping up,” Laviolette said.
In the first period, the Canadiens got on the board with 6:47 left on a 42-foot slap shot by Alexei Emelin that sped past Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzygalov who was screened off from the puck by Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher.
The Flyers tied the game on a rather fortuitous goal by Couterier. The puck bounced off goal Price’s stick and then caromed off the skate P.K. Subban into the Canadiens’ net.
Later in the second, the Flyers took a 2-1 lead on a goal by Simone Gagne, who got the puck on a shot by Luke Schenn that went wide of the bounced off the board to the right of the goal and onto Gagne’s stick past Price.
But the Flyers lost that lead in matter of 21 seconds. First, Alex Galchennyuk took the puck away from Schenn near the Flyers blue line and then passed it to Jeff Halpern who found a streaking Brandon Prust and shot it past Brzygalov to even the game at 2-2.
Seconds later, Montreal took the lead on a goal by David Desharnais. On the scoring play, Brzygalov apparently lost the puck in the lights because he ducked when the puck whizzed by him into his net.