MONTREAL (AP) — Getting veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar to try to revive a woeful power play has worked out great so far for the Montreal Canadiens.
A power play that had scored only four goals through the first 15 games of the season has four in two games with Gonchar on the point, helping spark Montreal’s struggling offense at even strength as well.READ MORE: EXCLUSIVE: Body Of Missing 26-Year-Old Casey Johnston Recovered, Believed To Have Been Killed In Crash, Authorities Say
Gonchar had two assists to reach 800 points in his career and the Canadiens scored three power-play goals to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3 Saturday night for Montreal’s fifth straight win.
“We moved the puck well and got good shots, with good presence in front,” Gonchar said. “We’ve done good things and we have to continue doing that.”
Before the Canadiens shipped checking winger Travis Moen to Dallas for Gonchar this week, Montreal’s power play was producing at 7.1 percent. After going 3 for 3 against the Flyers, it has reached 14 percent.
“(Gonchar) settles things back there,” winger Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau said. “He’s very patient with the puck and he brings a lot of leadership on the power play too. You need that when things aren’t going well.”
Parenteau and Dale Weise each scored twice while David Desharnais and P.K. Subban also scored for Atlantic Division-leading Montreal.
Brayden Schenn scored twice and Matt Read had the other goal for the Flyers, who were coming off a 4-3 loss to Columbus on Friday night. Jakub Voracek had two assists to give him points in 10 straight games and put him into the NHL lead with 26 points — one more than Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby.
The Canadiens took a 3-0 lead on power-play goals only to see the Flyers battle back twice to within a goal before Weise put it away with two late goals.
“We tried to string a comeback together, but when you give up six goals, its hard to come back,” said Schenn. “Our team defense wasn’t where it needed to be. .. Montreal is a good team, and they’re going to come at you hard. If you’re not going to play tight defensively, they’re going to put pucks in the back of your net.”
Gonchar got a warm ovation from the Bell Centre crowd when his 800th point was announced. The Russian got it in his 1,258th game over 20 NHL seasons.
“It means a lot,” he said. “I’ve been in the league for a while and 800 points is not something many defensemen achieve in their careers. It’s very special to me, especially in this building with the Montreal fans.”
He was not the only Canadien to reach a milestone. Coach Michel Therrien, who once coached Gonchar in Pittsburgh, got his 300th win.READ MORE: Man Cleaning Gun, Shoots And Kills 22-Year-Old Girlfriend In Bustleton, Philadelphia Police Say
“It’s not a stat I think about a lot, ” said Therrien. “I started young and I had a chance to work with good teams, with good players.”
The Canadiens ended a long power-play drought with Jiri Sekac’s goal in a 5-1 win over Boston on Thursday night and then scored on all three chances against the Flyers.
Parenteau banged in Max Pacioretty’s rebound 6:47 into the game and Desharnais poked in a puck after Ray Emery failed to squeeze Pacioretty’s shot from the right side at 8:49.
It was Subban’s turn to finish a tic-tac-toe play with Alex Galchenyuk and Tomas Plekanec with a man advantage 6:47 into the second period.
The Flyers struck back when Schenn followed Voracek into the zone and sent a loose puck past Carey Price. Then, Schenn put Claude Giroux’s rebound into an open side at with 1:14 remaining to make it 3-2.
Parenteau was in the slot to knock Gonchar’s wrist shot down and into the net at 1:02 of the third on a goal that stood up to video review for a high stick.
The Bell Centre crowd booed as a long scramble in front of Price’s crease ended with Read picking out a puck that was laying open and flicking it in on a power play at 5:38 to pull the Flyers to 4-3. Replays showed officials were right not to whistle the play dead.
Weise restored the two-goal margin with 6:42 remaining when his shot from the right side trickled through, and then had a puck go in off his body after Plekanec’s shot hit a post with 2:59 to go.
NOTES: Canadiens LW Drayson Bowman was scratched for a second game since his all-up from AHL Hamilton. … The Flyers, 4-3 losers to Columbus on Friday night, surrendered three power-play goals for a second game in a row.
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