Goals have been hard to come by in the Eastern Conference first-round playoff series between the Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens.
Expect more tight-checking hockey when the teams meet Tuesday afternoon in Toronto for Game 4 of the best-of-seven series.
The Flyers took a 2-1 series lead with a 1-0 victory Sunday night, as Jakub Voracek scored the lone goal on a deflection at 5:21 of the first period and Carter Hart recorded the first playoff shutout of his NHL career, stopping 23 shots.
“We were able to grease it out, and Carter made some big saves,” Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said. “… It was hard to make offensive plays. Both teams were not giving a lot of room on the ice. You’ve got to grind these out.”
There have been a total of nine goals scored through the first three games of the series, with more than half of those coming in Montreal’s 5-0 victory in Game 2.
The Canadiens had emotion on their side in that game after head coach Claude Julien was forced to return to Montreal following the stenting of a coronary artery last Thursday. Associate coach Kirk Muller is expected to guide the team for the rest of the series.
The Flyers got inspiration for Game 3 after left winger Oskar Lindblom rejoined the team for the morning skate. Lindblom, who turned 24 Saturday, has spent most of the season battling a rare bone cancer.
“It’s always a big boost when he’s around,” said Flyers defenseman Robert Hagg, a fellow Swede who is Lindblom’s closest friend on the team.
The Canadiens were unlucky in Game 3, hitting the post five times behind Hart, who had been pulled late in the second period of the previous game after allowing four goals.
Muller said he wants the same effort from the Canadiens on Tuesday.
“That was a playoff game (Sunday), an NHL playoff game. There were two really good goalies who played really well. Both teams didn’t give up much,” he said. “As the game went on, what I like is our guys didn’t quit; it was a great effort. We fought through the second, the third, hit some posts. If one of those goes in, maybe it’s a different outcome. But I can honestly say to our players, ‘Listen, you didn’t quit, you kept going, you kept pushing.’ I thought the effort was great for everybody.
“This is playoff hockey; this is what it’s all about. We had a strong game the other night; we knew that Philly was going to come back. They had a good game (Sunday); they pushed us hard. It’s a new day tomorrow. We’re going to wake up tomorrow, we’re going to gather around, we’ve got some young guys on this team and we’ve got some great leaders. We keep preaching about our team and what we do well. We’ll mention that again tomorrow, and we’ll be ready to go next game.”
–Field Level Media