Habs continue winning ways; drop Flyers
12/21/2006 10:29:01 PM
MONTREAL (CP) - Head coach Guy Carbonneau has a simple reason why the Montreal Canadiens are playing their best hockey of the season: they're putting the team ahead of individual accomplishments.
Mike Johnson's short-handed goal in the second proved to be the winner as the surging Canadiens downed the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 on Thursday for their season-high fifth straight win.
From the first guy to the 23rd guy, everyone wants to sacrifice - whether it's their statistics or their bodies - for the good of the team," Carbonneau said.
However, given Montreal's winning ways of late, Carbonneau said a big part of his job is making sure his team doesn't become complacent.
"Even when you win there are little mistakes you can fix," he said. "But on the other hand we had Alex Kovalev blocking shots in the third period tonight, and I'm not sure we got that earlier in the season."
Guillaume Latendresse, Craig Rivet and Chris Higgins also scored for Montreal (21-8-5), which has earned at least a point in eight straight games (6-0-2).
In the space of two days, Montreal went from beating the Eastern Conference's best team (a 5-2 road decision over Buffalo) to downing the division's worst in Philadelphia. And the Canadiens did it without suffering any letdown, outshooting the Flyers 18-8 in the first.
"These points are just as big as the ones in Buffalo," Canadiens captain Saku Koivu said. "I think we controlled the game early and didn't get as many goals as we could have with all the chances we had.
"It could have been 5-1 halfway through the game."
Mike Knuble and Jeff Carter scored for the Flyers (8-21-4), who extended their franchise-worst losing streak to eight games and have won only three of their last 15.
David Aebischer made 26 saves for Montreal, including a big one on Sami Kapanen early in the third to maintain a 3-2 Canadiens lead, to win his second straight start and earn his 100th career win.
"It's pretty special," Aebischer said of the milestone. "It's not quite (Patrick Roy's all-time record of) 551, but I'm getting closer."
Antero Niittymaki made 33 saves and was generally solid for the Flyers, but still took his eighth straight loss.
Montreal's top-ranked power play went 2-for-8 and has converted at least twice in six of its last nine games. The Flyers effectively neutralized Montreal's biggest power-play weapon - Sheldon Souray's booming slapshot from the point - but still got burned by Latendresse and Rivet who scored from in close.
"Obviously Sheldon is a big part of our power play," Carbonneau said. "But if you take him away, we have other weapons, too."<
One is Andrei Markov, who had two assists Thursday to give him six in three games.
Philadelphia did score twice on the power play to snap an 0-for-17 slump over the previous four games.