Canadiens beat Flyers 3-2 in Game 5 to stave off elimination

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Montreal Canadiens centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi (15) leaps to try to deflect a shot in front of Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart (79) during third period NHL Eastern Conference Stanley Cup first round playoff hockey action in Toronto, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)

TORONTO (AP) — Nick Suzuki buried the winner 22 seconds after Philadelphia tied it in the third period, Brendan Gallagher snapped a goal drought and the Montreal Canadiens beat the Flyers 5-3 on Wednesday night in Game 5 to stave off elimination in the first-round playoff series.

Joel Armia scored twice for the Canadiens, Phillip Danault sealed it into an empty net, and Carey Price made 26 saves. Brett Kulak and Jonathan Drouin each had two assists, and Suzuki also had a helper.

“This was a character win with our group,” Canadiens associate coach Kirk Muller said. “It started right from the first shift tonight with Phil’s line and the intensity that Gally brought.”

Game 6 is Friday.

“This group is made up of some great character guys, great leaders,” Muller said. “They want to keep playing.”

Jakub Voracek scored twice for the Flyers — both on a five-minute power play in the second period — and added an assist. Joel Farabee had the other goal.

“Every time we kind of gained momentum we got scored on right away,” Voracek said. “During the regular season we usually carry that momentum into the next shift, today they absolutely killed us with that.”

Carter Hart, coming off back-to-back shutouts, made 28 saves.

“There might be one or two he might want to have back,” Philadelphia coach Alain Vigneault said about Hart. “But at the end of the day we have a lot of faith in him. He’s played extremely well for us. He’ll be fine next game.”

After the Flyers tied it at 3 on Farabee’s power-play redirection with 9:43 left, Suzuki took Drouin’s pass from behind the Philadelphia net on the next shift and outwaited Hart to score.

Philadelphia got a power play seven minutes into the third, but Price snagged Claude Giroux’s shot through a screen. Kevin Hayes then had a partial break, leading to a tripping call and Farabee’s goal that briefly drew the Flyers level before Suzuki responded.

Montreal led 1-0 after the first period on the heels of getting shut out 1-0 on Sunday in Game 3 and 2-0 in on Tuesday in Game 4, but suffered a big blow early in the second when Jesperi Kotkaniemi was assessed a major penalty and a game misconduct for boarding on Philadelphia defenseman Travis Sanheim.

The 20-year-old Kotkaniemi initially went to the penalty box but, after the referees reviewed the play, Kotkaniemi was booted from the game just 1:45 into the period.

Philadelphia made the Canadiens pay 50 seconds later when Voracek’s shot struck the stick of Montreal’s Ben Chiarot and beat Price. The Flyers took their first lead at 6:37 with eight seconds left on the same advantage when Voracek’s pass in front went off Chiarot’s skate and slid over the goal line.

Armia scored his second of the night at 10:12 to tie it at 2.

Gallagher then scored on a power play after Philadelphia’s Philippe Myers got a double-minor for high-sticking. Suzuki feathered an aerial pass to the winger down low, and Galllagher batted it home before looking skyward in relief at 11:30. Gallagher, who scored on his league-leading 37th shot of the restart, snapped a personal nine-game post-season scoring slump dating back to 2017.

“He’s been getting down on himself for not scoring,” said Suzuki, a 21-year-old-rookie. “It’s nice to get that monkey off his back.”

Gallagher wasn’t available to the media post-game after losing a tooth following a cross-check to the face from defenseman Matt Niskanen that went uncalled in the third.

“One of the biggest hearts of any guy I’ve ever played with,” Price said. “We know what we get from him … he came up with a big one for us.”

Suzuki beat Hart off the rush for a goal that looked to have made it 4-2 with 5:26 left in the period, but the sequence was correctly challenged for offside with Drouin into the offensive zone a step early.

Vigneault was about to give Hart the hook in favor of Brian Elliott for the second time in the series before the call was reversed.

The 22-year-old Hart, who became the second-youngest goalie in NHL history with consecutive playoff shutouts, saw his streak end at 122 minutes, 53 seconds, while Montreal’s goal drought was snapped at 132:18.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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