MONTREAL (AP)—Simon Gagne made the trip from Quebec City worthwhile for his personal cheering section of some 25 friends and family.
The Philadelphia left winger had two goals and an assist, and the Flyers scored three second-period goals in a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
Gagne, a native of the Quebec City suburb of Ste-Foy, set up Mike Knuble’s go-ahead goal 15:43 into the second before making it 3-1 on a power play with 11.9 seconds remaining in the period.
“It’s always a little bit more special for myself, coming here and being in Montreal, at home,” Gagne said.
He added his second goal of the game—his team-leading 13th—with a short-handed effort with 2:08 left in the third.
“When he starts heating up, they start pouring in and he’s going to score all the time,” Knuble said.
The Flyers, who lost Wednesday to Ottawa 3-2 in overtime, have five points in their last three games after recording just 12 points while only winning five of their first 21.
“We’ve been playing well as a team lately and hopefully these two wins turn things around and we’ll win a lot more games,” Niittymaki said.
Alex Kovalev and Saku Koivu scored for Montreal, which had a season-high three-game winning streak.
Montreal goalie David Aebischer stopped 22 shots in his first start since Nov. 16, when he was pulled after the second period of a 5-1 loss in Florida for the second start in a row.
Knuble put a loose puck into an open net for his fourth goal with 4:17 left in the second to put the Flyers up 2-1.
Gagne made it a two-goal margin just one second before Montreal was able to kill off the second of two penalties late in the period, including a 1:28 stretch where it was two men down with defensemen Craig Rivet and Sheldon Souray in the penalty box.
“I think it would have been pretty big to go into the third period down 2-1, instead of 3-1,” Aebischer said. “It was a one-timer, I think he fanned on it and it just found its way into the net. That’s the way it goes.”
Koivu, who scored the tying goal in the Canadiens’ 2-1 overtime win in Buffalo the night before, got his sixth of the season on a power play 3:22 into the third to draw Montreal within one.
Kovalev, who beat Niittymaki over the right shoulder with a hard wrist shot 8:04 into the game, fed a pass from the right side to Koivu, who tipped the puck between the goalie’s pads.
Montreal led 1-0 after the first, though its margin could have been much bigger with all the scoring chances the Canadiens had early in the period.
Souray had a short-handed chance as his slap shot trickled through Niittymaki’s pads and just wide of the left post. Tomas Plekanec shot over the net on a partial break later in the same penalty kill and Koivu had a good scoring chance denied when Joni Pitkanen was called for holding at 3:25.
“It seems that the second period is the problem for us in a lot of games,” Koivu said. “We lose our focus and make some mental mistakes, and we lose that momentum that we have. We just needed one or two more goals in the first to really get things going, but that didn’t happen tonight.”
Kapanen tied it at 1 with his fourth goal 1:34 into the middle period.
Souray fought Flyers D Derian Hatcher with 1:20 remaining. … Canadiens G Cristobal Huet had made seven straight appearances—including two relief appearances for Aebischer—before sitting this one out. He has won five straight starts, and seven of eight. … The crowd of 21,273 was Montreal’s 70th consecutive regular-season sellout at the Bell Centre. The Canadiens set a single-season attendance record of 872,193 last season and have sold out every regular-season game since Jan. 8, 2004, when 20,706 were on hand for a 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay.