Pacioretty, Habs end 6-game skid
Montreal picks up 1st win this season on home ice
The Montreal Canadiens responded positively to a grim reminder that when teams slump, jobs are in danger.
Max Pacioretty had two goals and an assist as the struggling Canadiens broke out with a 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night.
Yannick Weber, Andrei Kostitsyn and Michael Cammalleri also scored for the Habs (2-5-2), who had not won since Oct. 9 in Winnipeg and announced the firing of assistant coach Perry Pearn before the game.
"It was a big shock to all the players. We didn't see it coming at all," said Pacioretty. "When things are not going your way you've got to mix things up and it kind of sent a message to the players that they're willing to do what it takes to win hockey games."
Pacioretty was expected to miss the game with what was being reported as ligament damage in his wrist.
"He's obviously a big part of our lineup. He's a threat offensively every night and brings a lot of energy," said goalie Carey Price of Pacioretty. "If we were going to be missing him that was going to be a big hole."
Tomas Plekanec and David Desharnais had a pair of assists each for Montreal, while Price stopped 21 shots for his 100th career win. He earned his first back on Oct. 7, 2007, a 3-2 final against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.
Jaromir Jagr scored the lone goal for the Flyers (5-3-1). It was his third of the season.
It's not the first time Pacioretty made impact in his return to the ice following an injury. In his second pre-season game this year — just the second game he played after Boston's Zdeno Chara guided him into a stanchion in March, leaving him with a severe concussion and broken neck — he scored twice and added another in the shootout.
"I talked to [Aaron] Palushaj a bit and he said that even back to college, I always play better after an injury," Pacioretty, who donned the University of Michigan blue alongside Palushaj. "I don't know what it is. Maybe it's just in my head, but I'll take it."
Price played a strong game with several key saves to keep the Canadiens in it. Midway through the second, he got a leg out to deny Claude Giroux. He then stopped James van Riemsdyk on a breakaway early in the third.
Jagr opened the scoring at 10:43 of the first when he took a cross-ice pass from defenceman Matt Carle and slipped the puck into the net before Price could get over.
Weber put the Canadiens on the board with just three seconds remaining in the opening period. Benefiting from a late power play, Desharnais fed Weber at the blue-line and the Swiss defenceman rifled a shot from the middle to beat Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
Montreal has now scored power-play goals in back to back games.
"I like how we competed, how we went to the net," said Montreal's head coach Jacques Martin. "The difference was special teams — we got a key power play goal, last seconds of the first period and didn't give anything against tonight. We also got some key saves from our goalie."
After Kostitsyn gave the Canadiens their first lead of the game when the puck caromed of his skate midway through the second, Pacioretty put his team ahead 3-1 two minutes later.
Pacioretty, who leads the team in scoring with nine points, sent the Bell Centre into a roar at 3:16 of the third pushing a loose puck in the crease into the net.
"He's a beast," Price said of Pacioretty. "Obviously it's not fun to play hurt but right now, we need everybody going."
Cammalleri finished off the scoring with his third at 15:36.
Bryzgalov made 23 saves on 28 shots for Philadelphia.