Flyers, Canadiens fired up for Game 3
Brotherly love could be in short supply as the Philadelphia Flyers play host to the Montreal Canadiens in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal at the Wachovia Center on Monday (7 p.m. ET, CBC, CBCSports.ca).
What's been a hard-fought, physical series took a downright nasty turn near the end of Game 2 at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Saturday.
Shortly after R.J. Umberger's second goal of the night put the Flyers up 4-2, Canadiens winger Tom Kostopoulos blindsided defenceman Kimmo Timonen with a sucker punch to the face.
Kostopoulos earned a two-minute roughing minor on the play, but the war of words has escalated ever since.
"Kostopoulos, he's a tough kid and I've got a lot of respect for him and [Steve] Bégin," Philadelphia head coach John Stevens said. "But to go up and blindside sucker Kimmo Timonen on a play at the end there, that's cowardly, in my opinion."
Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau has been anything but quiet about the criticism of his player.
"That's one team that shouldn't talk," Carbonneau said of Stevens's comments. "They played 82 games and had the most suspensions in the league."
Carbonneau also took exception over what he perceived as too much celebration on the part of the Flyers at the Bell Centre.
"They started taunting our players. When you score you go to your bench, take the two points and go home, don't start [needling] our players," Carbonneau said. "I think [Timonen] deserved it."
It's that kind of bulletin board material that will be used to motivate both teams trying to seize control of a close series.
Flyers look to keep home ice
Outside of the post-whistle and verbal sparring, the Flyers managed to earn a split in Montreal thanks largely to the play of goaltender Martin Biron.
The native of Lac St. Charles, Que., made 34 saves on Saturday for the Flyers, including several key stops in the first two periods when he was continuously under fire from the Canadiens.
"It's a special night for us. To go home tied 1-1 is special. The first game we let slip away, but tonight we stuck to our system, worked hard and we're back in the series," Biron told Hockey Night in Canada after the game.
On Saturday, Jeff Carter added a first-period goal to go with Umberger's pair while Daniel Briere — who continued to be booed unmercifully by Montreal fans — scored on a great second-period effort to silence the Bell Centre crowd.
If gaining home ice advantage wasn't enough of a reason for the Flyers to be optimistic, they may also be getting some good news on the injury front.
Veteran forward Mike Knuble skated by himself on Sunday and could potentially return from a partial tear of his left hamstring much sooner than expected.
"I feel right now I'd be healthy enough to play a game," Knuble said following his skate.
Flyers trainer Jim McCrossin reportedly told Stevens that Knuble was more likely to return to the lineup for Game 4 on Wednesday.
Montreal looks to capitalize on chances
Despite controlling play for lengthy stretches of the first two games, Montreal enters Game 3 knowing it could have been heading to Philadelphia down 2-0.
The Flyers were less than 90 seconds away from stealing Game 1 of the series until a penalty to forward Mike Richards allowed the Canadiens to tie the game on the ensuing power play and then go on to score the overtime winner.
The Canadiens offence has had little trouble generating opportunities, as they've outshot the Flyers 70-56 through two games of the series, but Biron continuously responded with timely saves.
The same can't be said for Canadiens netminder Carey Price, who has not been at his best so far in this series. The rookie phenom has allowed seven goals in two games, including two goals on the first seven shots he faced in Game 2.
Price, 20, has seen his save percentage drop from .925 in the first round to .868 through two games of the second round.
Defenceman Patrice Brisebois did not fly with the Canadiens to Philadelphia, and will instead consult with doctors on Monday regarding a leg injury he suffered during Saturday's morning skate.
With files from the Associated Press