for this game

Higgins, Aebischer lead Canadiens past Flyers

Jan 12, 2007 - 4:54 AM
PHILADELPHIA (Ticker) -- The Philadelphia Flyers could have used the defensive prowess of Eric Desjardins against another of his former teams.

On a night when the Flyers honored their former captain, Chris Higgins had a goal and an assist and David Aebischer made 34 saves as the Montreal Canadiens extended Philadelphia's losing streak to five games with a 4-2 victory.

A member of Montreal's 1993 Stanley Cup championship team, the recently retired Desjardins was showered with gifts and memories during a pregame ceremony. A video tribute was played before the former blue-liner received gifts from both former Canadiens teammate and current coach Guy Carbonneau and the Flyers.

"On the ice, one of the best to play the game," Philadelphia's Simon Gagne said of Desjardins. "Off the ice, one of the best persons that I've ever met. He's a friend of mine and he taught me a lot, and that's why I am where I am today."

Desjardins' defensive skills could have come in handy for the Flyers, who failed to score in the final 52 minutes of the contest.

Higgins set up Mike Johnson for the game's first goal five minutes into the opening period and, after Jeff Carter forged a tie, Alexei Kovalev gave the Canadiens a 2-1 lead as the teams combined for three tallies in a 55-second span.

Defenseman Joni Pitkanen netted his first of the season at 7:51 of the first, but Higgins put Montreal ahead for good less than 8 1/2 minutes into the second with his 13th tally.

"I've sat back and tried to refocus," said Higgins, who has eight points in his last 12 games. "I wasn't happy with the way I've been playing. The six games right after Christmas, I wasn't playing well and I was fighting the puck. I just tried to play the game simple and don't try to do anything too fancy, and the puck has been going my way the last two games."

Michael Ryder created breathing room with a power-play tally just over seven minutes into the third.

Tomas Plekanec and blue-liner Andrei Markov had two assists apiece and Aebischer turned aside the final 28 shots he faced for the Canadiens, who had lost five of their previous seven games.

"It's going to be important to play well consistently to get ready for the playoffs," Aebischer said. "You can't show up for one of two games."

"Two points against these guys count (the same) as two against Buffalo," Johnson said. "We've lost to them once and we've lost to teams that have been below us in the standings. We're happy to get the win, not necessarily with the way we played, but happy to get the win."

Captain Peter Forsberg returned after missing four contests with a strained groin and set up a goal for Philadelphia, which fell to 3-12-4 at home and 1-8-2 against Northeast Division opponents.

"I got a little tired in the third," said Forsberg, who reported he still is having issues with his foot. "I think I have to keep my mouth shut, keep on working and not think about it. We're still trying to find a solution and it's so frustrating talking about it. Right now, it feels much better than it did when I couldn't skate at all."

"I thought tonight there were long stretches where we carried the play and we had a lot of sustained time in the offensive zone," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "We're creating the scoring opportunities that we need to create. We just need to start finishing on those opportunities and put pucks in the net."

Johnson ended a nine-game drought by shoveling his own rebound past goaltender Antero Niittymaki, but the lead lasted just 25 seconds as Carter tipped defenseman Alexei Zhitnik's shot from the blue line by Aebischer to create a 1-1 tie. The Canadiens regained the advantage 30 seconds later, banking a shot from alone on the right side off Niittymaki's left skate and into the net for his 11th tally.

Defenseman Sheldon Souray nearly made it 3-1 with Montreal shorthanded, but his shot from his own blue line bounced off the right elbow of the net. Pitkanen turned the tide moments later, cutting to the net from the left point and converting a pass from Forsberg for a power-play tally, his first in 40 games this campaign.

Higgins spoiled Philadelphia's return home from a 3-5-0 road trip at 8:17 of the second, deflecting defenseman Francis Bouillon's slap shot from the blue line in the high slot past Niittymaki.

"I knew that it was going to be an ugly one to get back on track," Higgins said. "I tipped it and it went very slow, but I'll take it at this point. I could have scored a couple of others tonight, but I'm glad that I got one."

Ryder capped the scoring with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle that found the top right corner of the net.

"I felt average," Niittymaki said. "I had some good saves, but I'd like to take back a few goals. I think average is the right word."

"It was a bit of a scattered game," Johnson said. "Our third goal came off of a lucky bounce. It was a high tip and it found its way in. We finally found a way to get a power-play goal at the end. ... Our goalie played well and we were lucky to get the goals when we did."








  • NHL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MONTREAL 2 1 1 4
    PHILADELPHIA 2 0 0 2 FINAL
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: MON - MICHAEL JOHNSON 8 (CHRIS HIGGINS, TOMAS PLEKANEC) 5:00
    PHI - JEFF CARTER 4 (ALEXEI ZHITNIK, SAMI KAPANEN) 5:25
    MON - ALEXEI KOVALEV 11 (ANDREI MARKOV, SAKU KOIVU) 5:55
    PHI - (PP) JONI PITKANEN 1 (PETER FORSBERG,

    Jan 11 9:50 PM


  • NHL
    MONTREAL 4
    PHILADELPHIA 2
    3RD PRD: MON - (PP) MICHAEL RYDER 14 (ANDREI MARKOV, SHELDON SOURAY)
    7:10 (TWO-MAN ADVANTAGE)

    Canadiens vs. FlyersJan 11 9:28 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 2ND 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MONTREAL 2 1 3
    PHILADELPHIA 2 0 2 END OF THE 2ND
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: MON - MICHAEL JOHNSON 8 (CHRIS HIGGINS, TOMAS PLEKANEC) 5:00
    PHI - JEFF CARTER 4 (ALEXEI ZHITNIK, SAMI KAPANEN) 5:25
    MON - ALEXEI KOVALEV 11 (ANDREI MARKOV, SAKU KOIVU) 5:55
    PHI - (PP) JONI PITKANEN 1 (PE

    Jan 11 8:55 PM


  • NHL
    MONTREAL 3
    PHILADELPHIA 2
    2ND PRD: MON - CHRIS HIGGINS 13 (FRANCIS BOUILLON, TOMAS PLEKANEC)
    8:17

    Canadiens vs. FlyersJan 11 8:38 PM


  • NHL
    END OF THE 1ST 1ST 2ND 3RD TOTAL
    --- --- --- -----
    MONTREAL 2 2
    PHILADELPHIA 2 2 END OF THE 1ST
    GOAL SCORING:
    1ST PRD: MON - MICHAEL JOHNSON 8 (CHRIS HIGGINS, TOMAS PLEKANEC) 5:00
    PHI - JEFF CARTER 4 (ALEXEI ZHITNIK, SAMI KAPANEN) 5:25
    MON - ALEXEI KOVALEV 11 (ANDREI MARKOV) 5:55
    PHI - (PP) JONI PITKANEN 1 (PETER FORSBERG

    Jan 11 8:03 PM


  • NHL
    MONTREAL 2
    PHILADELPHIA 2
    1ST PRD: PHI - (PP) JONI PITKANEN 1 (PETER FORSBERG, SIMON GAGNE) 7:51

    Canadiens vs. FlyersJan 11 7:39 PM


  • NHL
    MONTREAL 2
    PHILADELPHIA 1
    1ST PRD: MON - ALEXEI KOVALEV 11 (ANDREI MARKOV) 5:55

    Canadiens vs. FlyersJan 11 7:33 PM


  • NHL
    MONTREAL 1
    PHILADELPHIA 1 14:35 LEFT, 1ST PRD

    Canadiens vs. FlyersJan 11 7:31 PM