The score could possibly have been (at LEAST) 4-0 for Montreal after one period of play had lady luck been on their side - in reality, lady luck was on Martin Biron and and the Flyers side, and the Flyers came away with a nail-biting 3-2 win in game 3.
It all began with NONE OTHER than possible "unluckiest player of the year" Chris Higgins, who had a puck bounce over his stick as he went to wrist a shot setup by Kovalev past a long-beaten Biron - basically missing an absolutely empty net.
Prior to that, Koivu had a chance on a breakway as he exited the penalty box and received a feed from the defensive zone. He came in wide, and as he attempted to cut across the paint, Biron poke-checked the puck a la Hasek and had the puck slide under his paraphenalia for the faceoff whistle.
The Habs also failed to convert on a full 2-minute 5-on-3 situation created by Bouillon drawing consecutive penalties on Steve Downie and Sami Kapanen.
Afterwards, the Canadiens proceeded to hit 3 posts on separate shots/occasions courtesy Andrei Markov, Alex Kovalev and Maxim Lapierre, and as I've stated before, that seems to be the WORST possible thing for Montreal, as it almost 100% results in goals for the other team...it was the case vs. Boston once, and Philly once already...and it was the case tonight again.
For each post hit in the first, the Flyers responded with goals in the 2nd.
Upshall opened the scoring 7:04 into the 2nd, as he used Montreal defensman Mike Komisarek as a screen from just inside the blueline to release a wrist shot past Carey Price.
Mike Richards then scored shorthanded to extend Philly's lead to 2-0. He scored five short-handed goals in the regular season, which led the Flyers and was tied for third in the NHL. Richards picked off the puck and broke the zone, much like Upshall earlier, releasing a wristshot that hit Price's glove and continued its trajectory on the ice, eventually ending up in the cage.
Just over 3 minutes later (and with less than 2 to go in the frame), R.J. Umberger scored his 5th of the playoffs and 4th of this series by converting a wristshot from between the hashmarks which was made available to him thanks to a very solid effort from centerman Jeff Carter, who fought for the puck behind the net and tried forcing home a wrap-around.
The Habs, who were completely deflated at this point, needed any spark to get them going in the 3rd.
Coach Guy Carbonneau decided to start Jaroslav Halak in the 3rd, and after Halak made a major save with the right pad, that spark came - in the form of Derian Hatcher.
Hatcher completely wallpapered Bouillon behind the net from behind, planting his arms/hands into Bouillon's numbers and sending his face into the glass. Bouillon, who wears a visor, had a small cut under his left eye, and the call was made by the referee as a 5-minute boarding major and game misconduct against Hatcher, giving the Habs a full 5-minute powerplay to make a game out of it once more.
After 2 full minutes of entering the zone and having the puck turned over and sent back into their own zone, Montreal finally got their icebreaker, as a delfection on Biron was too hot to handle, and Tomas Plekanec was able to bat home a lose puck that was in the process of being cleared by a Flyers defenseman.
With just over 1:30 remaining on the 5-minute major, the Habs would get another goal, as Markov's slapshot was knocked down in front of Biron, and Koivu, who was trying to screen Biron and be in a lane to bang home a rebound, coralled the puck to his backhand and slid it past Biron into the empty net.
Montreal then got another powerplay opportunity as Kukkonen ran interference on Steve Begin, but failed to convert on it.
The Habs then took a too many men on the ice penalty with 3:36 to go, and, once that was killed off, the Habs tried the no-guts-n0-glory play, pulling Halak and shooting the lights out on Biron, who withstood the barrage long enough for the win.
Coach Carbonneau did indeed decide to break up the "Smoke & Fire" line of Smolinski-Begin-Kostopoulos, replacing Begin with Latendresse on the line. The move didn't exactly pay dividends, but Latendresse did have a good game, registering 5 shots and 5 hits. Begin played well as well on a line with Lapierre and Streit, as he seemed to boost Lapierre emotionally which allowed Lapierre to play one of his best games in recent memory.
Plekanec and Kovalev continued to struggle however. Despite scoring, Plekanec had a lot of difficulty evading the Flyers checks and big defensemen, and Kovalev, who played 25:23, took just one shot on goal, missing 3 others wide of the net.
Koivu played 23:21 and played another impressive game, scoring once on 5 shots which were all quality scoring chances. He also set up Kovalev a few times for great chances, including a post and a few missed targets which could have been potted by a player of Kovalev's calibre.
Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek continued to struggle tonight, and it was reportedly confirmed to Team990's Tony Marinaro that Markov is suffering from a knee and shoulder injury, explaining his abysmal skating and overall play in these playoffs.
Montreal went 2-for-8 in the game on the powerplay, while they stifled Philly's 3 opportunities.
The Habs also blewout Philly on the shotclock, outshooting them 34-14 in the loss.
Game 4 goes Wednesday night in Philly at 7 p.m.