PHILADELPHIA – Mathieu Schneider was able to do for Montreal on the final shot of the game what Philadelphia failed to achieve in eight tries.
Score on the power play. Schneider scored with a man advantage at 3:21 of overtime to give the Montreal Canadiens a 4-3 victory over Philadelphia on Friday night.
“I just tried to hang on and just get a wrister through with a screen,” Schneider said.
He caught a break when Scottie Upshall was sent off for goalie interference.
Recently acquired from Atlanta to quarterback the power play, Schneider scored his seventh goal of the season on a wrist shot from the right circle. It was Montreal’s first goal since it scored three times in a 2:04 span in the first period.
Upshall argued the call on and said it was unfair, especially so late in OT.
“I didn’t think I went in and intentionally hit the goalie,” Upshall said. “From one angle, it looked like I might have clipped the back of his mask, but I know I hit the back of his leg.
“I got tripped up.”
The Flyers outshot the Canadiens 37-31 in regulation, but wasted all eight power-play attempts.
Philadelphia, which had converted an NHL-high 32 per cent of its home power-play opportunities, failed to convert on both of its 5-on-3 advantages.
“Special teams was the difference and they won it,” Flyers coach John Stevens said.
Montreal made the most of the game’s final power play when Schneider spoiled what had been a strong performance by goalie Antero Niittymaki.
Niittymaki, locked in a battle for Martin Biron for the starting goalie job, stopped 32 shots.
Jaroslav Halak settled down in the net for Montreal after allowing two quick goals to open the game, finishing with 35 saves.
The first-period scoring burst was enough to give Montreal a 3-2 lead. Simon Gagne, though, tied it 3-3 in the second when he swiped the puck from Patrice Brisebois from the far blue line, raced down the ice and scored his 24th goal.
The Flyers played their 36th straight game without centre Danny Briere and there’s no telling when he’ll pull on the sweater again.
Briere originally set Wednesday as his return date, and that was pushed back to Friday.
General manager Paul Holmgren said before the game he was hopeful that Briere, who has played only nine games this season because of abdomen and groin surgeries, could play Sunday at New Jersey.
While it appeared Briere sat out because the Flyers were still up against the salary cap even after having Glen Metropolit and Ossi Vaananen claimed off waivers, Holmgren insisted Briere simply wasn’t quite ready to play yet.
Holmgren said if Briere could have played against Montreal, there was a workable solution to get the former all-star centre back in the lineup.
Instead, the Flyers wait for Briere to proclaim himself ready.
“I’m pretty close,” Briere said between the first two periods. “There’s still a little bit of pain, but from what I hear, I’m going to feel a little pain the rest of the year.
“That’s part of it. It’s close. I’m feeling stronger each day.”
Not even Briere might have been able to stop Montreal in the first and bounce back from a 2-0 hole.
Alex Kovalev made it 3-2 with 1:31 left in the period. Kovalev’s slapper shot off Niittymaki’s right shoulder, flew straight in the air and bounced behind the goalie and into the net.
This game was strange from the opening faceoff when Carter went for the puck against Metropolit – his teammate only hours earlier.
The Flyers placed Metropolit on waivers to clear salary cap space for Briere, then saw him immediately claimed by Montreal.
“You know how they say, no friends on the ice,” Metropolit said. “I just tried to compete tonight and just worry about the task at hand.”
The Flyers immediately rushed the net, and Joffrey Lupul slipped one under the bar for a 1-0 lead only 28 seconds into the game.
Mike Richards intercepted the puck from Roman Hamrlik in the right circle and the Philadelphia captain snapped in his 24th goal.
“I think we thought it might be an easy game after the quick start, but they did good things, they capitalized on their chances and we didn’t,” Richards said.
Notes: Scott Hartnell’s assist on Lupul’s goal gave him 300 career points. … Vancouver claimed Vaananen, a defenceman, off waivers on Friday. … The fastest two goals were ever scored against Philadelphia came from Chicago in only 6 seconds on Feb. 16, 1972. … Lupul’s goal was the fastest at the start of the game for the Flyers this season.