Montreal didn’t need all 240 characters to express on Twitter the importance of beating the Flyers: “Les Canadiens remportent une grosse victoire!” In any language, this much was clear for a team making a desperate playoff push, the Canadiens won a big one.
Brendan Gallagher, Shea Weber and Max Domi scored goals, Carey Price stopped 32 shots and the Canadiens earned a 3-1 win over the fading Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
“We can win our games, that’s all we can control,” Weber said.
The Canadiens and Flyers are both chasing a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Montreal entered three points behind Columbus for eighth place in the East and the Flyers were six points out with 78.
With less than 10 games left for each team, time has about run out for the Flyers to complete their second-half surge toward the post-season. The Canadiens, well, they have a playoff pulse after losing two straight and four of five overall.
“I think maybe we’ve been a little bit preoccupied with what’s been going on around the league,” Gallagher said. “We’ve got to do a better job with just focusing on ourselves.”
Price was never seriously tested by a Flyers team that seemed listless in front of an empty Wells Fargo Center. The biggest cheers were reserved for the prizes awarded on fan appreciation night.
“I feel we didn’t have a lot of urgency and were working through the motions,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “We didn’t play bad, but we didn’t play good.”
Gallagher scored his 31st goal on a slapper from the slot in the first for a 1-0 lead. Gallagher, who had his first NHL hat trick against the Flyers on Feb. 21, has done his part to keep the Flyers out of the playoff picture. He scored his fourth goal in three games against Philly and provided all the offence Price needed.
Weber turned a faceoff win into his 12th goal of the season in the second and the Canadiens got the better of rookie goalie Carter Hart. Hart came off a sensational 41-save victory at Pittsburgh that kept Philly afloat for one more game.
But the odds are stacked against the Flyers – just a 2.6 per cent chance of making the post-season headed into the game – under interim coach Scott Gordon.
Sean Couturier scored his 30th goal of the season in the third on the power play to give the Flyers a flicker of hope for a comeback. But they had nothing left and Domi knocked in an empty-netter with 1:05 remaining to seal the win.
“I think we made it easy on them,” Couturier said. “I don’t want to say we weren’t urgent or we didn’t come out strong. It could have went one way or the other.”
Notes: Flyers D Philippe Myers and Samuel Morin were scratched because of illness. ... Price made his fifth straight start. ... Couturier had his second straight 30-goal season. ... The Flyers did not allow Montreal a power-play opportunity, the fifth time they’ve held an opponent without one this season.
Montreal: Hosts the Islanders on Thursday.
Philadelphia: Plays Thursday at Chicago.