Montreal (23-16-2) at Philadelphia (22-10-5)

Cloudy Currently: Philadelphia, PA
Temp: 73° F
  • Game info: 7:00 pm EST Tue Jan 20, 2004
  • TV: RDS, Comc
Preview | Box Score | Recap

After a pair of convincing wins over one of the top teams in the NHL, the Philadelphia Flyers have regained their confidence.

The Flyers look to extend their winning streak to three games, and continue their dominance of the Montreal Canadiens when the teams meet for the third time this season.

Philadelphia entered a home-and-home series with the Toronto Maple Leafs this weekend with an 0-4-1-1 record in its previous six games.

The Flyers, however, regained their first-place form and outscored the Leafs 8-1 to win both contests.

Philadelphia won 4-1 at home on Friday, and 4-0 on Saturday as Robert Esche made 35 saves for his second shutout of the season and Michal Handzus scored twice to lead the Flyers.

“Every time Toronto has a breakdown, we put it into the net,” Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We have a lot of confidence right now.”

Todd Fedoruk and Jeremy Roenick also scored on Saturday for the Flyers, who tied Toronto for the most points in the Eastern Conference (59).

“This was a big weekend for our hockey club, especially with the way things have gone recently,” Philadelphia captain Keith Primeau said.

Saturday’s victory was costly, however, with defenseman Eric Desjardins breaking his right forearm in a collision with Roenick. He will have surgery Tuesday and is expected to miss up to eight weeks.

The team also announced Monday that defenseman Marcus Ragnarsson will be sidelined up to two weeks with a sprained left rotator cuff.

The losses of Desjardins and Ragnarsson prompted the Flyers to acquire defenseman Danny Markov from the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday for 22-year-old winger Justin Williams. Williams, a former first-round pick who has 26 points this season, was suprised but understanding of the move.

“With a couple of defensemen going down, they felt they needed to make a move for a defenseman,” Williams said. “It’s unfortunate, but it happens.”

It’s uncertain when Markov will join Philadelphia.

The Flyers have won six straight against Montreal since a 3-1 home loss on April 4, 2002, but the Canadiens come into this contest playing well.

Montreal skated to a 2-2 tie with the New York Rangers at home on Saturday to extend its unbeaten streak to four games. The Canadiens have just one loss in their last 10 contests (7-1-2).

Canadiens goalie Jose Theodore made 27 saves Saturday, but the Rangers were able to tie the game with 5:06 remaining in regulation.

“It was an overall bad game from us,” Canadiens captain Saku Koivu said. “We didn’t play well at all, and Theo was sharp and he made some great saves. They were a better team tonight so we have to be really happy with one point.”

STANDINGS (through Jan. 18): Canadiens - 54 points, 3rd place (tied), 5 PB, Northeast Division. Flyers - 59 points, 1st place, Atlantic Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Canadiens - Richard Zednik, 15 goals; Mike Ribeiro, 27 assists and 38 points; Darren Langdon, 84 PIM. Flyers - Roenick and Mark Recchi, 16 goals; Roenick, 22 assists and 38 points; Donald Brashear, 88 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Jan. 18): Canadiens - Power play: 19.0 percent (35 for 184), 7th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.4 percent (151 for 179), 15th. Flyers - Power play: 21.9 percent (40 for 183), 3rd. Penalty killing: 84.4 percent (179 for 212), 14th.

GOALTENDERS: Canadiens - Theodore (19-14-5, 5 SO, 2.01 GAA); Mathieu Garon (4-4-1, 2.41). Flyers - Jeff Hackett (10-10-6, 3, 2.39); Esche (12-5-4, 2, 1.83).

SEASON SERIES: Flyers, 2-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 8; Flyers, 3-2. At Montreal, Philadelphia’s Marcus Ragnarsson scored with 3:19 left to tie it at 2, and John LeClair netted the winner at 18:47 when he tipped defenseman Eric Weinrich’s point shot past Garon.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Canadiens - 10-8-2-2 on the road; Flyers - 14-3-2-3 at home.

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