Tongue-wagging Cammalleri and Canadiens grab Flyers’ attention in East finals

MONTREAL – Losing to the Montreal Canadiens was bad enough for Philadelphia Flyers agitator Daniel Carcillo. Seeing Michael Cammalleri stick out his tongue at him following a skirmish was over the top.

If that is the way the Canadiens want to play, Carcillo is up for the challenge. One day after their 5-1 loss in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final, the Flyers got back to work.

Being disrespected by Cammalleri is another thing Carcillo and his teammates intend to use as a rallying point when they hit the ice again Saturday for Game 4. Philadelphia will be trying to take a 3-1 series lead back home for Game 5 on Monday.

Carcillo was still bothered Friday by Cammalleri’s actions that occurred when a linesman broke up a shoving match between the two late in the second period while the Canadiens led 3-0.

“It’s embarrassing,” Carcillo said. “We could maybe keep that in the pit of our stomach (Saturday) for a little extra motivation.”

Carcillo then called Cammalleri “a homer,” noting that the Canadiens never tried anything like that during the Flyers’ two home wins at the start of the series. With a smile, he added that the last time anyone stuck their tongue out at him was “probably a girl—a pretty one, too.”

Cammalleri saw nothing wrong with what he did. He said he and Carcillo went to the same school in King City, Ontario, and have numerous mutual friends.

“It’s hockey. You jaw a little bit out there,” said Cammalleri, who scored the opening goal Thursday—Montreal’s first of the series. “You know what, when you’re winning the game, it’s fun, so you try to enjoy it.”

It’s no surprise that tensions are starting to rise between the longtime rivals after the Canadiens thoroughly dominated Philadelphia on Thursday.

The Flyers blamed themselves and said they were overconfident. Philadelphia came out flat and was being outshot 28-13 when Dominic Moore scored to make it 3-0 with 8:27 left in the second period.

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“I think we got what we deserved,” Flyers captain Mike Richards said. “It would be easy to sit back and say, ‘We were close’ if it was 2-1. But with a score like that in a game like that, I think questions have to be raised and answers looked for.”

The Canadiens are riding high, having reclaimed their swagger after a victory in which they proved for the first time in the series that could get pucks past goalie Michael Leighton.

“I think we need to get back to that and show that we’re not going to take a back seat,” Montreal defenceman Josh Gorges said. “We responded. We didn’t take a step back, but we took another step forward and tried to push the pace back at them.

“And when we’re playing that way, we’re aggressive, we’re in your face. That’s when we’re most effective.”

The Canadiens rediscovered their offence with a recommitment to creating traffic in front of Leighton. Their first two goals were scored during scrambles in front.

There is now renewed hope in hockey-mad Montreal, where fans are starting to again believe their beloved “Bleu, Blanc et Rouge” might have one more playoff comeback in them this year. The eighth-seeded Canadiens rallied in their first two series against Washington and Pittsburgh.

The passion was particularly apparent during Game 3, when the press box shook on several occasions. Fans then took the party outside with horn-honking intensity, gridlocking downtown streets following the Canadiens’ first home game in 10 days.

“I think a lot of people were counting us out when we went down 2-0,” defenceman P.K. Subban said. “I thought that we responded really well and showed that we’re willing to compete and battle with them.”

If Cammalleri’s tongue wasn’t enough, the Flyers took exception to the Canadiens sending out their top power-play unit during a two-man advantage in the final minute.

“They’re a confident group, maybe a little bit cocky,” Richards said. “Karma sometimes comes back to you.”