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Montreal Canadiens' Brian Gionta (L) celebrates his goal on the Philadelphia Flyers with teammate P.K. Subban during the third period in Game 3 of their NHL Eastern Conference final hockey series in Montreal, May 20, 2010.


Montreal Canadiens centre Scott Gomez can boast many talents, to which you can add another: clairvoyant.

After the Habs were shutout for the second straight time by the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, he predicted all they needed was one goal, preferably a grubby, lucky one, and the floodgates would open.

And so it came to pass in Game 3, where a Habs' shooting barrage resulted in a 5-1 victory, and more importantly allowed them to clamber back into the Eastern Conference final in emphatic fashion.

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This was plainly a different team than the one Habs fans saw in the first two encounters of this series - to the point where chants of "we want chicken wings" went up in the Bell Centre. (A local restaurant chain gives away free wings every time Montreal scores five.)

They got their wish.

And for the first time in six tries, the Canadiens managed to win a game in which they out shot their opponents. (Montreal peppered the net with 38 shots, the Flyers with 26, with only Simon Gagné's third-period wrister beating the excellent Jaroslav Halak.)

The breakthrough against Flyers goalie Michael Leighton, who had authored a pair of shutouts to open the series, came in the first period, courtesy of the playoffs' leading goal scorer. Michael Cammalleri collected his 13th of the postseason, swiping the puck in after it caromed off the glass onto Leighton's doorstep, a place the Habs wore a path to all night long.

"That kind of loosened everyone up out there," Gomez said.

Asked if the result was a relief, Gomez replied: "If we'd been down 3-0, we'd still have been in there - nah, of course it's a relief!"

The Habs came out flying, as they did in the opening two games, with the crucial difference that they cannily used their speed advantage and didn't give up an early goal.

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"This was a build on Game 2," said forward Brian Gionta, who scored in the third period, and said his teammates did a more effective job of supporting each other in the neutral zone and moving the puck, which in turned contributed to a more robust fore-check.

And it seemed as if the home side, spurred by a fevered crowd that taunted Leighton throughout, also discovered a new, flintier edge to its game.

The Canadiens elected to dress seven defencemen, inserting the big and bulky Ryan O'Byrne to assist in dealing with the Flyers' net-crashing ambitions.

It also appeared to spark defensive partners Roman Hamrlik (who had two assists and was plus-4) and P.K. Subban (three assists, plus-4).

Turning point

Defenceman Ryan O'Byrne took a delay of game penalty in the opening minute, Montreal killed it off. If Philadelphia scores, different ballgame.

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Goaltender watch

Well, shutout streaks aren't eternal, and Michael Leighton's ended at 1:72.55 when Michael Cammalleri, the playoffs' leading goal-scorer, batted his 13th in to the Philadelphia net in the first period.

And if Leighton had been parsimonious in the first two games, he was in a more giving mood on Montreal's third, a 40-foot wrister that slipped through his legs.

At the other end, Habs goalie Jaroslav Halak looked like he's regained his mojo.

Penalty box

The Habs' power-play woes continued this night, as they went 0-for-4 (they are now 0-for-12 on the series). The other talking point is a series of non-calls by referees Paul Devorski and Brad Watson: a couple of hits from behind on Philly's Mike Richards, a high stick by Montreal's Josh Gorges stand out as the most striking examples.

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About the Author
National Correspondent

Sean Gordon joined the Globe's Quebec bureau in 2008 and covers the Canadiens, Alouettes and Impact, as well as Quebec's contingent of Olympic athletes. More

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