MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens are trying to stay optimistic about the little things after losing their seventh game in a row.
The Canadiens had their season-high winless streak extended on Saturday afternoon with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Montreal is 0-4-3 since its last victory on Nov. 15 in Washington.
“It sucks. It feels like everything is going against us right now,” said forward Nick Cousins. “We’re not really getting many breaks. I thought this game was a step in the right direction. We got one point but there are no moral victories here.”
The Canadiens (11-9-6) were better than their previous three outings, when they conceded 20 goals in regulation losses to the Rangers, Bruins and Devils.
The recent onslaughts forced Claude Julien to tinker with his defensive pairings.
Six-foot-three defenceman Gustav Olofsson, recalled from the AHL’s Laval Rocket, made his Canadiens debut playing alongside rookie Cale Fleury. Mike Reilly and Brett Kulak were healthy scratches.
The defence made fewer turnovers, attempted fewer risky plays and allowed only a small handful of odd-man rushes.
“Much better this afternoon than recently,” said coach Julien. “We were much better defensively against a very dangerous team offensively. We didn’t give up quite as many high-quality chances.
“One point is better than none. That’s something to build on.”
Tomas Tatar scored twice and Joel Armia added another for Montreal. Backup Keith Kinkaid stopped 25-of-29 shots.
Carey Price, who allowed 16 goals in his past three games, got the afternoon off. Price will start Sunday night against at the Boston Bruins.
Oskar Lindblom, Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny scored in regulation for the red-hot Flyers (15-7-5), who were playing the second game of a back-to-back.
Philadelphia has earned at least a point in six straight contests (5-0-1).
Defenceman Ivan Provorov was the overtime hero, beating Kinkaid 31 seconds into the extra frame with a nifty dangle around Max Domi in the offensive zone.
“Our whole bench was yelling that it was a forward playing defence as Provorov went down,” said Konecny, describing the game winner. “It’s not surprising because he did that in junior a lot. He has a lot of skill.”
The Canadiens started the game well, scoring 19 seconds in. Armia stormed down the wing and fired blocker side on Brian Elliott, who whiffed on the shot, for Montreal’s first lead in a week.
Elliott settled down after that as he stopped a total 39-of-42 pucks.
The teams upped the scoring pace in the second, trading three goals in a 1:12 span.
Lindblom tied it for the Flyers with his team-leading 11th of the season at 7:47 by deflecting Justin Braun’s shot from along the half wall.
Tatar scored 27 seconds later with his first goal in seven games. The first-line winger blocked captain Shea Weber’s slap shot with his back before beating an out-of-position Elliott.
Jeff Petry gave the puck away needlessly in his own zone, which led to the 2-2 equalizer from Hayes at 8:59 on a top-corner shot from the slot.
Konecny completed a nice passing play between Claude Giroux and Michael Raffl to give Philly the 3-2 lead just 1:34 into the third period.
The Canadiens answered back less than two minutes later through Tatar’s second of the contest, 11 seconds into Provorov’s tripping penalty.
Armia had a chance to win the game for Montreal in the dying seconds of regulation but Elliott made the save from in close.
“We showed character throughout the 60 minutes,” said Tatar, who has nine goals this year. “We were pretty happy with our game, how it went. It hurts that it didn’t go our way in overtime.
“We can build on a lot of positives from today.”
Notes: Defenceman Victor Mete (lower-body injury) left the game and did not return. … Phillip Danault recorded his 100th assist in a Canadiens uniform. … Former Canadiens head coach Michel Therrien is currently an assistant coach with the Flyers.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2019.
Kelsey Patterson, The Canadian Press