At some point this season, maybe before the all-star break, the Flyers are going to escape their horrid win-one, lose-one pattern and win two games in succession.

Trying to build on three consecutive up-tempo 60-minute efforts, the Flyers welcomed the struggling Montreal Canadiens into the Wachovia Center last night.

And the Flyers bid the Canadiens adieu after a 4-1 loss in which Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki, who had looked solid lately, gave up three goals on the first 10 shots.

"I thought we were OK the last three games and would show up with an even better game tonight," Flyers center Danny Briere said. "We got into early penalty trouble and weren't able to recover. They just kind of clogged back the rest of the way. It was amazing how shots were blocked."

Montreal blocked 20 shots and played an effective 1-4 defensive scheme as the Flyers dropped to 1-4-2 in their last seven home games.

"We were well aware of it. Boston plays that way," Flyers coach John Stevens of the Montreal defensive strategy. "New Jersey for the most part plays that way. Dallas plays that way. Especially on the road, most teams play that way. They work smarter. When they can't get pressure, they pull back."

There wasn't much Niittymaki could do on Montreal's first goal, at 8 minutes, 17 seconds of the opening period. Working on the power play, Saku Koivu lasered a pass across the slot to Andrei Markov. Markov had Niittymaki moving to cover the right post when he sent a quick pass to the opposite side for Chris Higgins' goal.

The Canadiens' second and third goals were a different story. Andrei Kostsitsyn came roaring up ice with Tomas Plekanec, took a crossing pass in the crease, and beat Niittymaki through the five-hole 21 seconds into the second period.

The boos came less than five minutes later when, on the power play, Niittymaki was practically inside the net on Mark Streit's five-hole shot, which made it 3-0. Streit made it four goals on 14 shots at 9:58. That's when Stevens used his time-out.

"We wanted to regroup. There was lots of time in the hockey game," he said. "When you have full possession, they pull back with four [guys]. We were not moving our feet and passing into coverage. When there's ice there, you have to take it in the offensive zone."

The Flyers got a power-play goal late in the period when Mike Richards shot the puck off Mike Knuble's skate and past goalie Carey Price. Knuble got credit for the goal.

"We had lots of opportunities," Briere said. "We just couldn't get shots through to Price."

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