Flyers beat Canadiens for 10th straight home win

Sean Couturier (14) celebrates his first-period goal with teammates Steve Downie and Vinny Lecavalier during the Flyers' victory over Montreal.
Sean Couturier (14) celebrates his first-period goal with teammates Steve Downie and Vinny Lecavalier during the Flyers' victory over Montreal. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer)
Posted: January 10, 2014

You know things are going well when winger Zac Rinaldo - who is known for his feistiness, not his goal-scoring ability - backhands a shot that caroms off an opponent's stick and into the net.

You know things are going well when one of your defensemen, Andrej Meszaros, collects his third assist of the night before the game is half over.

You know things are going well when your team hasn't lost at home in more than two months.

Welcome to Flyers hockey.

The Flyers won their 10th straight home game Wednesday night, defeating the Montreal Canadiens, 3-1, and continuing their amazing climb from the abyss.

Meszaros had three assists, and Sean Couturier keyed a strong penalty-killing unit for the Flyers, who are 22-10-4 since their 1-7 start.

"We're sacrificing our bodies, blocking shots and, doing all the little things," Couturier said. ". . . Right now we're confident we can find ways to win."

The Flyers have their first 10-game home winning streak since 2003, and they have won 10 in a row at home in regulation for the first time since 1984-85.

"The energy at home is unbelievable right now," said Rinaldo, whose team was frequently booed at the Wells Fargo Center earlier this season. "They're doing a great job keeping us in the game - and we're taking it and running with it."

A little over eight minutes after Couturier scored on a rebound, Rinaldo's backhander from the slot bounced off the stick of Montreal's Lars Eller and past goalie Peter Budaj, giving the Flyers a 2-0 lead with 5 minutes, 21 seconds left in the opening period.

"You've got to be good to be lucky, and I got lucky there," Rinaldo cracked after his first goal of the season and sixth of his career. "The boys have been really supportive of me. You've just got to put pucks on the net, and that's what I did, and it went in for me."

Meszaros had his first three-assist game since March 2, 2006.

"It's not just me. All the defensemen are trying to jump up into the play - whoever has the chance," he said. "That's the game now, and if you want to attack and you have the 'D' join in, it's a big advantage."

After missing most of last season because of injuries, Meszaros is healthy and will be difficult to take out of the lineup when Erik Gustafsson returns from a sprained knee this weekend.

"Obviously, if you play more games, you're going to have confidence," said Meszaros, who will play for Slovakia in next month's Olympics. He later added, "Hopefully I'm doing a good enough job that the coaches will keep me in."

Meszaros collected his third assist of the night on Michael Raffl's first goal in his last 11 games, which gave the Flyers a 3-0 lead with 11:36 left in the second period.

But about four minutes after Brandon Prust decisioned Rinaldo in a fight, Montreal cut it to 3-1 as Tomas Plekanec, helped by a Steve Downie turnover, scored a shorthanded goal with 2:23 left in the second period. The Flyers have allowed seven shorthanded goals this season, including two in consecutive games.

The Flyers, who killed off four penalties Wednesday and ran their streak to 19, were coming off a 5-1 road trip that vaulted them into second place in the Metropolitan Division.

"We're not always going to play our best hockey, but we're squeezing wins out," coach Craig Berube said after the Flyers' second win in 24 hours. "They're a confident group."


scarchidi@phillynews.com

@BroadStBull

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