Canadiens ground surging Flyers

MONTREAL (Ticker) — Sergei Kostitsyn, Steve Begin and Guillaume
Latendresse each netted a goal and set up another Thursday as
the Montreal Canadiens ended the Philadelphia Flyers’ five-game
winning streak with a 5-2 victory.

Matt D’Agostini and Alexei Kovalev also scored and Jaroslav
Halak made 29 saves for the Canadiens, who snapped a three-game
losing streak.

“(Alex) Tanguay almost had one early there and we were buzzing,”
D’Agostini said. “Right from the first shift, we were going and
that kind of set us up for the rest of the game.”

Arron Asham tallied and assisted on defenseman Braydon Coburn’s
goal and Antero Niittymaki turned aside 25 shots for the Flyers,
who had posted a 12-1-2 record over their previous 15 contests.

“As of late we’ve been playing really good hockey, but it was
one of those nights where the pucks just wouldn’t go in,” Asham
said. “We’ve got a lot of skill up front, so we’re not too
worried about the scoring situations. It was just one of those
nights that we have to put behind us and be ready for the next

Montreal, which was eliminated by Philadelphia in the Eastern
Conference semifinals last season, did not waste any time
getting a measure of revenge in this one.

“I think that was the response I was expecting (from Kostitsyn
and Latendresse),” Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. “When
you have to take a player off the roster and put him in the
stands there’s always a reason for it.

“I don’t do it because I’m mad or I hate the guy, I do it for a
reason. To see the player work hard when they come back, we see
we were right and I think they understand why and know that we
have to work hard every day.”

D’Agostini opened the scoring exactly six minutes into the game,
accepting a long outlet pass from Maxim Lapierre and beating
Niittymaki with wrist shot.

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Kostitsyn doubled the advantage just over 4 1/2 minutes later
with his fourth goal of the season. The 21-year-old’s
power-play goal with 9:27 left in the first period snapped the
Canadiens’ 1-for-26 skid with the man advantage.

Begin continued the offensive onslaught, tallying his fifth goal
of the campaign with 4:34 left in the opening session. But the
Flyers answered 32 seconds later with Asham’s goal.

“You can’t win them all. We got off to a slow start, but we
picked it up as the game rolled on and we had some chances,”
Flyers center Jeff Carter said. “We were shooting high and wide
a lot and their goalie played well.”

Kovalev gave Montreal some breathing room in the second, beating
Niittymaki on a breakaway with quick wrist shot to the glove
side. Kovalev converted a perfect outlet pass from Begin into
his 900th career point.

“I was just trying to stay late on the changes and I saw Steve
(Begin) had the puck, so I just tried to split the defense,”
Kovalev said. “At that time I wasn’t even thinking about that
(900 points) or I probably wouldn’t have scored.

“I told (Begin) you are a part of history now. I assisted on
Mike Gartner’s 600th goal, so it was definitely nice to see
Steve make such a great pass. It’s a big achievement you always
feel that you just got into the league, first point, first goal
and then you’re at 900 points. It’s hard to imagine being in
the league 16 years and having 900 points.”

Halak, who has started five straight games in place of injured
starter Carey Price, picked up his second win since October 20.

Andrei Kostitsyn left late in the second period and did not
return. He will be evaluated Friday for a lower body injury.