MONTREAL – The Montreal Canadiens brought out their best hockey to cool off one of the hottest teams in the NHL – the Philadelphia Flyers.
Steve Begin and Sergei Kostitsyn each had a goal and an assist as the Canadiens stopped a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over Philadelphia on Thursday night.
“When we play teams we should beat, maybe we try things we shouldn’t try,” said Begin. “Maybe we play softer.
“Against this team, we were all better. Now we have to play like that against every team.”
Matt D’Agostini and Guillaume Latendresse also scored and Alex Kovalev picked up his 900th career point with his second goal in as many games for Montreal (17-9-5).
Aaron Asham had a goal and an assist and Braydon Coburn also scored for the Flyers (17-8-6), who ended a five-game winning run and lost in regulation for only the second time in their past 18 games.
In the spirit of trying things, Begin did just that six minutes into the second period when he feathered a stretch pass between two defencemen at the far blue-line to send Kovalev in alone for his goal. It was the kind of pass few expect from the grinding, fourth-line winger.
“When I saw Kovy there, I knew I had to try that pass,” he said. “I took a chance there.
“The defencemen were waiting for it, but it got through. Now, poor Kovy, he’ll remember me all his life because it came on his 900th point.”
“It was definitely nice to see,” said Kovalev. “Now I know everyone will be saying why do we only play our best against the best teams, but I hope this is the start of playing well against every team.”
The Canadiens, already missing captain Saku Koivu and winger Christopher Higgins to injuries, may have lost another as winger Andrei Kostitsyn did not come out for the third period with what looked to be a right leg problem after he took a hit early in the second and had to skip a few shifts.
Coach Guy Carbonneau said he would be examined by a team doctor on Friday to see if the injury is serious.
Goaltender Martin Biron, who usually has his best games against Montreal, stayed home with a flu and Antero Niittymaki, now 1-8-0 in his career against the Canadiens, started a second straight game for the Flyers.
It didn’t get better in this one as Montreal got three goals past him in the first period.
D’Agostini was sent in alone by Max Lapierre six minutes into the game to score his fifth goal in nine games since he was called up from AHL Hamilton.
Sergei Kostitsyn got his first goal in 17 games when his point shot on a power play went in at 10:33 and Begin deflected a Tom Kostopoulos shot inside the near post at 15:25.
Only 32 second later, Asham one-timed a Scottie Upshall feed into an open side from the slot past Jaroslav Halak, who started a fifth game in place of the injured Carey Price.
Coburn threw the puck toward the net from the point and saw it go in off Francis Bouillon’s hand 13:28 into the third, but Latendresse answered with a goal on a power play with 1:03 left to play.
The Canadiens were coming off losses to Tampa Bay, Washington and Carolina in which they scored a total of four goals, but they were a much sharper and more physical club against the Flyers.
“Whether it was 5-on-5, on the power play or shorthanded, we skated and worked hard, with and without the puck” said Carbonneau.
Montreal had defenceman Mike Komisarek back from missing 16 games with a shoulder injury and he looked his old self, blocking a team-high six shots and playing a physical game beside partner Andrei Markov.
Notes: With Komisarek’s return, Ryan O’Byrne sat out for Montreal. Georges Laraque also returned to the lineup after four games to replace rookie Ben Maxwell. . . . Lasse Kukkonen sat out a third game in a row for the Flyers. . . . Mike Richards’ eight-game points streak ended. . . . Josh Gorges was the latest to be given a shot at playing the right point on the power play in his 100th game for Montreal. It was the first game in which Montreal scored two power play goals in a game since Nov. 8 against Toronto . . The game was delayed 10 minutes at 15:14 of the third when a pane of protective glass behind the Montreal net was damaged by an Asham shot.