Their fans surely won’t provide a warm welcome.
The Flyers will play in Montreal on Saturday for the first time since dealing the Canadiens a stunning exit from last season’s playoffs.
A 5-3 victory at Philadelphia on Oct. 13 in the only meeting this season ran Montreal’s regular-season winning streak in this series to seven. But after losing all four matchups during the 2007-08 season, the Flyers ousted the top-seeded Canadiens from the second round of the playoffs in five games, capped by a 6-4 win in Montreal (9-3-2).
“It’s in the back of your mind that it’s still the team that put us out last year and you’re going to have a little bit of a grudge, but it’s a new year,” Montreal goalie Carey Price said after making 29 saves in last month’s victory in Philadelphia (5-6-4).
Price has won all four regular-season starts he’s made versus the Flyers while posting a 1.75 goals-against average, but was 1-3 with a 4.13 GAA in the playoff series.
The second-year netminder might be pleased to be back home, where he’s 4-1-0 with a 1.69 GAA this season. Price posted his only shutout of the season in his most recent outing at the Bell Centre, 4-0 over Ottawa on Tuesday.
He followed that performance by giving up six goals in a road start for the second straight time as Montreal fell 6-1 to Boston on Thursday.
“They had more of a fight and they put in the effort, and we didn’t,” said Price, who has a 3.45 GAA on the road compared to 1.69 at home.
Philadelphia put up a good fight Thursday on the road against defending Eastern Conference champion Pittsburgh, but lost 5-4 in a shootout. The Flyers overcame a three-goal deficit by scoring four times in the second period, including two short-handed goals by Simon Gagne, but Martin Biron gave up the tying goal to Sidney Crosby with 2:33 left in regulation.
“The encouraging thing was we were able to come back against a good team,” coach John Stevens said.
Stevens hopes his players are particularly motivated after a very tough loss, the Flyers’ fourth in five games, after which their dressing room door stayed closed for an extended period.
“Late in the (third) period we were doing a lot of good things, and then one mistake against a team that’s very opportunistic and it’s 4-4,” said center Mike Richards, who has a seven-game point streak. “It’s a tough way to lose a game.”
Gagne has five goals and seven assists in his last seven games. He tops the NHL with four short-handed goals - one more than the Canadiens have this season - and Philadelphia leads the league with eight.
The Flyers have yet to give up a short-handed goal and they’ve allowed only one goal in their opponents’ last 20 power plays.
Montreal, which is 2-for-22 with the man advantage in its last four home games, has lost three of four overall since opening the season 8-1-1.