Happy Habs shoot down Flyers to find new life
MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens head coach Jacques Martin wasn’t happy with Roman Hamrlik’s play earlier in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
However, there were no complaints about his performance Thursday night as he led the Canadiens to a 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference final.
“I think our whole team played well,” said Hamrlik, who collected a pair of assists and was plus-4 on a night when the Canadiens played one of those elusive 60-minute games to reduce the Flyers’_series lead to 2-1. “We did some good things in the first period of the first two games but tonight we got a lead and we kept skating.”
The 36-year-old veteran played his best hockey early in the season when Andrei Markov was injured but he said it was just a coincidence that Thursday night’s performance came a day after Markov had knee surgery.
Hamrlik has been paired with rookie P.K. Subban, who had the crowd chanting his name after he collected the second of his three assists on a Brian Gionta goal which gave the Canadiens a 4-0 lead early in the third period.
“He’s a talented young player who’s going to be in this league for a long time,” said Hamrlik. “He has speed and great skills.”
Speed was the difference Thursday night as the Canadiens neutralized the Flyers’ size advantage.
“We moved the puck much better tonight,” said Gionta, who scored his eighth goal of the playoffs. “We came up with support all together. We entered their zone a lot better tonight. Our forecheck was good. So when all that’s going, it’s a lot easier to get the traffic to net.”
Michael Cammalleri, who leads all playoff scorers with 13 goals, said the seeds of Thursday night’s win were sown in Game 2 despite a 3-0 loss.
“Yeah, don’t get me wrong, it felt good and we needed to score,’’ Cammalleri said of his first period goal which ended a drought of more than 137 minutes. “But I think the result really drives the talk. So I think we did some things OK in the last game too (but) I think we lose 3-0, and it’s our second game without scoring. So for everyone in this room and for everybody watching it’s a big deal, and it’s something to really talk about.
“But for us, we like the way we play, and we thought the goals were going to come. I just think that so much is made of the result that ends up determining the way you guys analyze the game. Sometimes for us it’s more important to worry about how we’re playing than scoring the goal. The goal goes in and it helps, but we know it’s coming.”
Gionta said it was important that the Canadiens kept pushing after taking the lead.
“I think at times this year we’ve gotten ourselves into trouble when we’ve gotten the lead and sat back,” he said. “Tonight I thought we did a good job, especially going into the third with a 3-0 lead. Obviously, (if) they scored a quick goal, it could change the whole outcome. But we kept pushing, we kept forechecking, and we’re a much better team when we’re doing that.”
Cammalleri said it was important to get contributions from the third line of Tom Pyatt, Dominic Moore and Maxim Lapierre, which produced two goals.
“For us to get where we want to go, we’re going to need contributions through our lineup, not only defensively, but offensively,” said Cammalleri. “I don’t think any team’s ever won a championship without contributions through the lineup. And so big goals tonight, and they helped a lot. (It was) so good inspirational effort by those guys.”
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