Flyers blank Canadiens again for 3-1 series lead

Michael Raffl
      Apparently allowing a whopping five Montreal goals in Game 2 left a rather lasting impression on the Flyers.
      So much so that they haven’t allowed one in the two games since.
      Working again with more stellar goaltending from Carter Hart, the Flyers put together a second consecutive shutout win on Tuesday, this time by a 2-0 score to take a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven series.
      The Flyers can close out the Canadiens in Wednesday’s Game 5, 8 p.m., at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
      Hart has blanked Montreal for the last 120 minutes. The Flyers have shut out the Canadiens for a total of 129 minutes, 25 seconds.
      Only two previous Flyers goaltenders have recorded back-to-back playoff shutouts: Bernie Parent in Games 2-3 vs. Toronto in the 1975 quarterfinals and Michael Leighton in Games 1-2 vs. Montreal in the 2010 conference finals.
      Michael Raffl and Phil Myers scored for the Flyers.
      On the defensive side of the puck, the Flyers blocked an eye-opening 13 shots, including one stoppage in which Robert Hagg inadvertently used his helmet to thwart a high-speed entry off the stick of master-blaster Shea Weber in the third period.
      Fourth-line center Nate Thompson chipped in with a team-leading three blocks.
      Once again, Hart was at the top of his game, remaining calm and composed whenever the Canadiens swarmed the net.
      “I thought getting that first goal (by Raffl) and some big defensive plays like blocked shots and good second effort by our part were key,’’ coach Alain Vigneault said in a Zoom call after the game.
      Vigneault decided to shake up his lineup by putting Raffl on the top line with Sean Couturier.
      Couturier was the set-up man on the Raffl goal. Raffl caught Couturier’s pass in stride and wristed a shot over goaltender Carey Price’s right shoulder at 6:32.
      Raffl was injured in the Boston round-robin game and is just getting back to full speed.
      He’s one of the one of the most versatile players on the Flyers’ roster, capable of playing all four lines. Vigneault took advantage of that flexibility on Tuesday.
      Was it just a hunch to move Raffl up?
      “Sometimes you need balance,’’ Vigneault said. “I thought that would give up a little better balance. At the end of the day, it’s about the execution and the will to compete.’’
      Whatever needs to be done, Raffl seems up for it and fits right in.
      “This group has been together for long enough to do well,’’ Raffl said. “We know each other pretty well. It doesn’t matter who you’re out there with. Just play the right way and do something to make our team better and help us find a way to win.’’
      As for Hart, it was just another rock steady performance.
      “There’s no doubt we’re not playing perfect hockey,’’ Vigneault said. “When we do make mistakes, he’s been able to make that big save for us.’’
      Hart said: “Everybody’s just committed to winning right now.’’
      Added Myers: “Hartsy’s been an absolute wall for us back there. He’s so calm the way he’s playing right now. He’s the best in the league. That’s been the biggest difference for us in the last two games.’’
      Myers made it 2-0 on a rather innocent-looking shot at 17:04 of the second period. The Flyers defenseman launched a shot from the top of the right circle and Price appeared to be caught off-guard as the puck deflected off his stick into the net.
      In addition to moving Raffl up, Vigneault scratched James van Riemsdyk and Nicolas Aube-Kubel. The health status of both players is unclear. In their place, Joel Farabee and rookie Connor Bunnaman returned to action.
      >Ex-Flyer Dale Hawerchuk passes away
      It was a sad day for hockey as former Flyers center Dale Hawerchuk died from cancer at age 57. A moment of silence was held at Scotiabank Arena. Hawerchuk, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, finished his career with the Flyers, playing in Philadelphia from 1995-97. In a statement, the Flyers said: “The Flyers were very saddened to hear of the passing of Dale Hawerchuk. Although Dale’s tenure with the Flyers was brief, it was without a doubt impactful. As a player, he displayed all the qualities of a Flyer and we were proud to have him finish his Hall of Fame career in a Flyers sweater.’’
      >Short shots
      The Flyers’ record for consecutive scoreless minutes in the playoffs is held by Leighton at 172 minutes, 55 seconds (2010). Parent’s streak was 143:16. . .The Flyers went 0 for 3 on the power play and now are just 1 for 28 for the playoffs.
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About Wayne Fish 2437 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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