By Ryan Boyd, Featured Writer
As expected, Wednesday night was full of exciting hockey matchups.
Philadelphia Flyers vs. Montreal Canadiens
Just hours after receiving news that Montreal had fired assistant coach Perry Pearn, the players responded in a big way.
The slumbering Canadiens (2-5-2) pounded the Philadelphia Flyers Wednesday night 5-1, ending a streak of six consecutive defeats. It also marked the first home victory for Montreal after the worst start in franchise history at the Bell Centre.
The Flyers (5-3-1) hung tough for one period after a Jaromir Jagr goal gave them a 1-0 advantage. However, with 2.6 seconds left in the first, Yannick Weber put one in the back of the net and the Canadiens never looked back.
Beginning in the second, Montreal netminder Carey Price stole the show in front of an ecstatic sellout crowd. He saved 21 of 22 pucks sent his way en route to the 100th win of his career.
Excellent goaltending was meshed with a promising display from the struggling offense. Led by Max Pacioretty’s two goals, the Canadiens more than doubled their season average of 2.25 goals per game, beating Philadelphia goalie Ilya Bryzgalov five times.
In contrast, the Flyers showed that the injury to captain Chris Pronger could have lingering effects.
Entering the contest ranked second in the NHL in offensive production and fourth in power play efficiency, the tables were turned. Philadelphia went zero for four on the man advantage and scored only once.
The Flyers and Canadiens both return to the ice Thursday in the second of back-to-backs. Philadelphia hosts the Jets, while Montreal travels to Boston.
Colorado Avalanche vs. Calgary Flames
For the Colorado Avalanche, all good things eventually come to an end.
In search of a franchise best seventh straight road win, the Avalanche (6-3-0) were unable to put out the Flames Wednesday night at the Saddledome, losing 4-2.
In many ways, this comes as no surprise as the Calgary Flames (3-4-1) continued their dominance in contests against the Avalanche. They have now won six straight in the Northwest Division rivalry.
After a first period that saw both teams scoring one goal, the Flames used scores from Lee Stempniak and Rene Bourque in the second period to build a 3-1 lead.
From there, it was left to Calgary goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff who was at his finest in the decisive third period. The Avalanche attack became especially relentless as they fired 20 shots on goal and with just under five minutes remaining cut the deficit to one.
On the night, Kiprusoft stifled a dangerous Colorado offense, saving 24 of 36 shots thrown on goal.
His counterpart, Jean-Sebastien Giguere was good… just not good enough. He withstood 31 shots from the Flames but in the process allowed three goals.
Offensively, the Flames rookie left-winger led the charge scoring his first NHL goal and adding an assist later in the game.
The Avalanche received contributions from six different player including another assist from a rookie of their own, Gabriel Landeskog. Surprisingly, leader Matt Duchene only picked up 13 minutes on the ice as his early season struggles continued.
Calgary will continue its 6-game home stand Friday night against the Blues, while Colorado will begin a 3-game home stretch of its own beginning with Edmonton.
St. Louis Blues vs. Vancouver Canucks
Originally the backup, Brian Elliott has quickly legitimized himself as a force to be reckoned with between the pipes.
Wednesday night Elliott saved all 32 shots on goal and recorded his first shutout of the season as the St. Louis Blues (5-4-0) cruised to victory over the Vancouver Canucks, 3-0.
Including the performance, Elliott stands at 4-0 on the season allowing a miniscule 1.59 goals per contest.
As for Vancouver (4-5-1), the struggles continued.
In the second game of a back-to-back, the Canucks posted a successful defensive stand through one period, as the score remained 0-0. However, as the match progressed, they appeared a step behind the impressive Blues offense.
Alexander Steen broke the tie just over halfway through the second, and added his second goal of the contest in the third. Patrik Berglund capped the scoring late in the final period.
Playing from behind has been a common theme for the Canucks all season long. In 10 games, they have only held the lead entering the third period one time.
Considering the recent disappointing play from Roberto Luongo, Vancouver relied heavily on Cory Schneider who was good, but not great. He saved 28 of 31 shots but found himself on the losing side of the score sheet.
With both teams searching for answers all over the ice, it seems to be St. Louis who has found gold in net.
The Canucks are off until Saturday when the undefeated Capitals come to town. The Blues, on the other hand, travel to Calgary Friday night.