Part of Philadelphia’s struggles against the Montreal Canadiens have been an inability to find the back of the net. The Flyers, however, certainly have some offensive momentum going for them now.
Coming off one of their best offensive performances of the season, the Flyers look to snap a three-game losing streak against the Canadiens when the teams meet Thursday night.
Joffrey Lupul notched a hat trick and had six points, and R.J. Umberger added three goals and five points to snap Philadelphia’s five-game winless skid at home with an 8-2 win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday night. It matched the Flyers’ highest goal total of the season, set on Oct. 10 with an 8-2 win over Vancouver.
Philadelphia has a chance to move into first place in the Atlantic Division, trailing New Jersey and the New York Rangers by one point. The Devils visit Boston on Thursday, while the Rangers are idle.
Philadelphia (16-10-2), however, will need to find a way to beat Montreal (14-11-5) for the first time since a 4-2 road win on Nov. 25, 2006. The Flyers have also lost two straight and four of five at home against the Canadiens.
Offense has been an issue in this series for Philadelphia, which has scored two goals or less in three of its last five home games against the Canadiens, and two in each of its last three games against them overall.
But the Flyers should have some confidence entering this matchup.
Lupul had the first six-point game for a Flyer since Eric Lindros on March 1, 1997, against Toronto. The fourth-year winger had his best game since being traded to Philadelphia from Edmonton in the offseason.
Lupul has nine goals and 23 points on the season, but has not registered a point in four career games against the Canadiens. He had a disappointing season with the Oilers in 2006-07, totaling 16 goals and 28 points in 81 games.
“He will admit that he has gotten away a little bit from doing the little things well that make him a good player, but he’s a big guy that skates well and is a scoring player,” Philadelphia coach John Stevens said of Lupul.
Umberger, meanwhile, scored his third goal with 2:12 left in Tuesday’s game to give the Flyers two players with a hat trick in the same game for the first time since Tim Kerr and Dave Poulin did it against the Islanders on Dec. 18, 1986.
Montreal enters this contest following a 3-2 shootout loss to Tampa Bay on Tuesday night. It was the sixth straight loss at home for the Canadiens, who will now try to improve on a 9-5-1 road record.
Smolinski will be out for six weeks after spraining his right knee against Boston on Dec. 6, while Begin—who separated his left shoulder in the same game — will miss two to three weeks.
The Canadiens, though, expect to have top goaltender Cristobal Huet back. He has missed four straight games with a pulled groin.