Veteran center Glen Metropolit skated with the Flyers at the morning practice, then took last night's opening face-off against the Flyers.

"It's totally bizarre," Metropolit, the newest member of the Montreal Canadiens, said before the game.

That was also an apt description of last night's finish.

A questionable goalie-interference penalty on the Flyers' Scottie Upshall gave Montreal a four-on-three power play, setting up Mathieu Schneider's goal with 1 minute, 39 seconds remaining in overtime in Montreal's 4-3 win at the Wachovia Center.

Upshall sped past a defenseman near the right circle, turned on a sharp angle, and tripped over Jaroslav Halak as the goalie came out of the net.

"I didn't think I went in and intentionally hit the goalie," Upshall said.

Flyers coach John Stevens also disagreed with the call.

"But that's not what cost us the hockey game," Stevens said. "We had lots of opportunities before that. We had extended five-on-threes and didn't get anything out of it, and that was probably the hockey game right there. Special teams were the difference."

The Flyers were 0 for 8 on the power play, including a pair of five-on-threes that lasted a combined 2:15. Montreal was 2 for 5 on the power play.

The Flyers seemed to be in control with an early 2-0 lead, but then allowed three goals in a horrid 2:04 span of the first period.

"Somebody decided we were going to play river hockey there, and it didn't suit us well," Stevens said. "I'd need a long sheet of paper to list the things we did poorly - guys at the end of shifts trying to beat guys one-on-four . . . turning pucks over, soft on pucks. We have to learn to take a lead and build on it and not give it back."

Captain Mike Richards, whose goal gave the Flyers the 2-0 lead at 8:14, thought the game turned "on a sloppy five-on-three and the 10-minute lull in the first period. Those are killers, especially coming up on the stretch here. We have to focus more not to have those.

"I think we thought it might have been an easy game after the quick start."

Trailing by 3-2, the Flyers tied the score when Simon Gagne intercepted a pass at his blue line and scored on a breakaway - the puck deflected off his skate - with 6:17 left in the second period.

The goal was Gagne's 24th of the season and 232d of his career, tying him for 10th place on the club's all-time list with Mark Recchi and Rick Tocchet.

In the game's first 51/2 minutes, Metropolit seemed to be in the middle of everything. He was on the ice on the first shift when Joffrey Lupul took a pass from Scott Hartnell (who tallied his 300th career point) and scored from the left circle 28 seconds into the game.

Metropolit was called for high-sticking about three minutes later. When his penalty expired and he left the box, he went in on a breakaway but was stopped by Antero Niittymaki with a brilliant glove save.

Twenty-five seconds later, Richards intercepted a Roman Hamrlik pass and scored from the right circle to give the Flyers their short-lived 2-0 lead.

But before the first period ended, Tomas Plekanec (on a power play), Tom Kostopoulos (off an Andrew Alberts turnover), and Alex Kovalev (on a drive off Niittymaki's right shoulder) scored to make it 3-2.

"We left Nitty high and dry," Hartnell said.

Metropolit, whom Montreal claimed off waivers, received a call from Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren yesterday afternoon.

"He said, 'Metro, I have good news and bad news. The good news is you're playing tonight. The bad news is that you're playing for Montreal.' " Metropolit said. "I was like, 'Wow, you've got to be kidding me.' It is what it is, a crazy game. I don't know if it can get any crazier than this."

Metropolit said he heard from several Flyers after they learned he had been claimed by Montreal.

"I was getting texts all afternoon: 'Keep your head up,' " he said, laughing, referring to the possibility that they might hit him.