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Montreal Canadiens' Kaiden Guhle is checked into the boards by Philadelphia Flyers' Travis Konecny during the second period in Montreal. The Canadiens won 4-1 on March 28, 2024.Christinne Muschi/The Canadian Press

He didn’t leave with a shutout, but Cayden Primeau won’t complain about the result on Thursday night.

Primeau made 29 saves as the Montreal Canadiens defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1.

After earning shutouts in his previous two home games, the 24-year-old netminder held Philadelphia off the scoresheet until the final 61 seconds before Owen Tippett broke the ice for the Flyers.

Shutout or not, Primeau claimed the game’s first star and fans chanted his name at the Bell Centre.

“It would have been nice to get one,” Primeau said. “But a win is just as nice.

“You don’t play for a shutout. They’re nice when you get them but that’s not why you play.”

Nick Suzuki led Montreal’s offence with a goal and an assist.

The 24-year-old centre reached the 30-goal milestone for the first time in his fifth season, and Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis believes his captain is just scratching the surface.

“He’s still a young player and sometimes you ask yourself, especially at his age, if there’s another level he can reach,” St. Louis said. “But the level he’s reaching right now is fun to watch, I’m not surprised he has 30 goals, he doesn’t cheat the game.”

Jesse Ylonen also scored while Joel Armia and Jake Evans added empty-net goals for Montreal (28-32-12).

Juraj Slafkovsky extended his point streak to a career-high nine games with an assist on Suzuki’s goal and Mike Matheson had three helpers.

The Canadiens, back at the Bell Centre after a five-game road trip, won a third straight outing for the first time this season.

“It feels nice. We beat three pretty good teams,” Suzuki said, referencing wins against Colorado and Seattle. “It’s obviously a lot better when you’re winning.”

Samuel Ersson made 13 saves as Philadelphia (36-28-10) lost its third consecutive game in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Flyers also suffered their fifth straight road loss despite outshooting the Canadiens 30-17, including 16-5 in the third period.

“We have 11 or 12 chances in the third period, and Primeau shut the door,” Flyer head coach John Tortorella said. “He made some really good saves but we just we just gotta keep on going.

“We gotta move by this and get ready for our next game.”

Philadelphia is hanging on to third place in the Metropolitan with 82 points, one point ahead of the Washington Capitals and three in front of the outside-looking-in Detroit Red Wings.

Beyond the result, Flyers players took issue with an incident late in the second period of a heated game.

Canadiens defenceman Kaiden Guhle appeared to spear Flyers forward Travis Konecny near the ribs from Montreal’s bench as time reached 40 minutes, causing a scuffle as players left the ice.

The referees didn’t see the play, but Flyers players expected the NHL’s department of player safety to give it a long, hard look.

“When you’re on the bench and you flip your stick over and spear a guy, I think you’ve got to look at it,” Scott Laughton said. “It’s a dirty play and they should be able to review that.”

Fired up to start the third, the Flyers thought they’d cut the lead in half twice early in the period only to have both goals overturned.

After Joel Farabee’s shot trickled through Primeau but stopped short of the net, Garnet Hathaway knocked it in during the ensuing scramble in the blue paint. The goal, however, was called off due to a distinct kicking motion.

Morgan Frost appeared to get Philadelphia on the board minutes later but it was ruled no-goal after Montreal challenged for offside.

“They’re the right calls,” the normally outspoken Tortorella said. “We just kept on playing and I still think we had more opportunities. I felt confident that we were going to come back right to the bitter end.”

From there Primeau shut the door with a huge save on Laughton in front of the net and another on a point shot from Travis Sanheim.

Tippett finally broke through with his late goal after Armia made it 3-0, but it was too little too late.

Suzuki opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 12:58 of the first period by knocking home a feed from Slafkovsky at the side of the net.

“They score a power-play goal to get on the board, we don’t,” Tortorella said after the Flyers went 0-for-4 with the man-advantage. “We got to our game towards the middle to the end of the second period, but Primeau played very well from then on in.”

Ylonen doubled the lead at 16:46, scoring off a rebound.

Torts’ praise

Flyers head coach John Tortorella has a lot of time for Canadiens bench boss Martin St. Louis. Tortorella coached a Tampa Bay Lightning team that starred St. Louis to a Stanley Cup victory in 2004. The Flyers coach doesn’t doubt that St. Louis’s talent on the ice will translate to the bench.

“He’s going to be such a good coach, because he wears it,” Tortorella told reporters Thursday morning. “He has one of the most interesting minds when it comes to hockey. He can’t give all his thoughts to his team, because he has a lot of stuff going on in there.”

Tortorella also said he kept in touch with St. Louis while he tended to his 16-year-old son Mason. St. Louis was away from the Canadiens from March 16 to 25 to be with his family after Mason was hospitalized due to complications from a hockey injury. Mason is now at home recovering.

Philly bound?

Goaltender Ivan Fedotov’s contract was terminated by Russian KHL club CSKA Moscow earlier Thursday, paving his way to potentially join the Flyers.

The 27-year-old Russian is under contract with the Flyers this season. He attempted to come to North America in July 2022, but instead was taken by authorities to a remote military base in the Arctic Circle for a year of service.

Up next

Flyers: Host the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.

Canadiens: Host the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.

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