Montreal Canadiens live to fight another day against Flyers

Sean Couturier #14 of the Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Sean Couturier #14 of the Philadelphia Flyers (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

With a Game 5 win, the Montreal Canadiens are still alive in their series against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Montreal Canadiens lived to fight another day after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3 in game five of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Entering Wednesday night’s game, Montreal was down 3-1 in the series, on the brink of elimination.

After being shut out in back-to-back games, Montreal was aggressive from the drop of the puck. But, they might have been too aggressive because Ben Chiarot picked up a goalie interference penalty early in the match for driving into the Flyers’ crease.

Luckily for Montreal, they were able to open the scoring with a shorthanded goal from Joel Armia. Xavier Oulette dumped the puck into the Flyers’ zone and Armia picked up the puck in front of the net and beat Carter Hart to give Montreal a 1-0 lead.

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This was Montreal’s first goal since the midway point of the third period in game two of the series. Up to this point, the team to score first won each game in the series. Montreal went into the first intermission with a one-goal lead.

In the second period, Montreal’s aggressive play once again took a turn for the worst when Habs center Jesperi Kotkaniemi received a five minute major and a game misconduct for a hit from behind on Philadelphia defenseman Travis Sanheim. Sanheim’s visor cut his face and he was bleeding as a result of the hit. Kotkaniemi was ejected from the game.

Philadelphia was able to take advantage of the Canadiens major penalty. Jakub Voracek took a one-timer which deflected off of Habs defenseman Ben Chiarot’s stick and found its way past Carey Price, tying the game at 1-1.

As the penalty was a major, Philadelphia stayed on the powerplay and eventually capitalized again. Once again, Jakub Voracek found himself on the score sheet with just eight seconds remaining on the five-minute major. Voracek drove the net and Chiarot once again had the puck deflect off his body and go into the goal. Philadelphia took the 2-1 lead.

Similar to the Flyers offensive contribution in the series, Montreal’s energy spark came from the fourth line at the midway point of the second. Armia, who has been bouncing up and down the line up this postseason got his second goal of the game. Armia shot the puck from an off-angle and it beat Hart short side, making the score 2-2.

Shortly after the tying goal, Flyers defenseman Philippe Myers took a double-minor penalty for a high sticking Jake Evans in the face, giving Montreal another try at the man advantage. On the subsequent powerplay, Nick Suzuki drove the net and fed Brendan Gallagher a saucer pass in front of the goal. Gallagher batted the puck from mid-air and beat Hart, giving Montreal a 3-2 lead heading into the third.

Montreal seemed to give themselves a cushion later into the period after what looked to be their fourth goal of the game. Suzuki entered the zone and ripped a shot under the glove of Hart.

Philadelphia coach Alain Vigneault was going to pull Hart out of the game but he decided to challenge the goal for offsides. After reviewing the play, it was deemed that Jonathan Drouin was offside and the goal was disallowed. Vigneault talked to Hart and decided to leave him in the game.

The third period was underway and Montreal was 20 minutes away from forcing a game six. At 10:23 in the third, Jeff Petry took a tripping penalty, giving Philadelphia their seventh power play of the game.

Philly already had two powerplay goals in the game before the powerplay. Philadelphia’s hot hand Jakub Voracek once again found himself on the scoresheet when he rifled a shot towards goal, hitting the stick of rookie forward Joel Farabee and finding the back of the net. Farabee’s third goal of the playoffs tied the game at 3-3.

Philadelphia’s much-needed momentum was short-lived, once again due to Nick Suzuki. Just 22 seconds after Farabee’s goal, Montreal’s young gun deked Hart out of his crease and put the puck into the open goal, giving Montreal the 4-3 lead.

Following Montreal’s goal, the physicality of the game picked up and emotions flared. Brendan Gallagher took a high stick to the mouth and was bleeding. Both teams were chirping back and forth and bodies were flying.

Philadelphia amped up the pressure in the dying minute of the game when they pulled their goalie, making it a six on five. Montreal was able to clear the puck out of the zone and Phillip Danualt buried an empty netter, sealing the 5-3 victory for Montreal. Following the goal, both teams got into a scuffle after Sean Couturier hit Artturi Lehkonen post-whistle.

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Tempers and emotions were high in tonight’s game and there is sure to be some more of that in Game 6. Montreal will hope that Jesperi Kotkaniemi can play the next game after his ejection. The NHL Department of Player Safety will definitely take a look at the hit. Montreal looks to force a winner-take-all game seven, while Philadelphia tries to end the series in six. Game six will be on Friday.