MONTREAL - Mike Richards does not have social anxiety.

Richards, the consummate lead-by-example captain, does not say much. And he will not make a living as a broadcaster after his playing career is over.

But when Richards speaks, he commands his teammates' attention. His poignant words, in which he called the Flyers' 5-1 loss in Game 3 an "ass-kicking" and a "beat-down," had the Flyers buzzing yesterday at practice.

"Every time he talks, you know there's something wrong because he doesn't talk very much," Claude Giroux said. "But when he does, you know it's pretty important.

"He's obviously right. That wasn't good, that last game. We've just got to be better."

The Flyers were clearly grounded yesterday, an obvious juxtaposition from the sky-high attitude they carried into the Bell Centre Thursday night with a six-game winning streak and a 2-0 lead over the Canadiens.

"I think we learned a lot from it," Simon Gagne said. "When you win, it's been six games in a row without losing, you kind of go away from your game because your power play is playing well, your goalie is playing well. You forget about a couple of things, you know, those little details.

"It's just a good wake-up call for us."

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said the Canadiens seemed to "catch our attention" with the physical, dominating nature of their Game 3 win.

Richards went as far as saying the brutal loss was a good thing for his team, which has a chance to take a 3-1 series chokehold with a win this afternoon.

"We got what we deserved," Richards said. "Maybe if we would have lost 3-2 or 2-1, we might not have gotten the message that clear or thought about it too much. It was distinctly not a great effort and it showed on the scoreboard."

Despite all the harsh words, the Flyers still have a 2-1 series lead.

"You don't want to necessarily think you have a game in-hand," Matt Carle said. "I don't know if we were necessarily due for a game like this, but it was going to catch up to us eventually. [Today] is a big game. We need to be the desperate team and really try to come out and play like we're down 2-1 instead of up 2-1."

The Flyers have said all the right things this season. Publicly, they remained confident even when trailing Boston by three games last round. Yesterday was no different. They believe they can combat the hostility in the NHL's largest arena and steal one game.

"When you win, and things are going your way and everything's going well, you're a little more casual," Danny Briere said. "We needed to adjust and get back on treack. Waking up this morning, we're still in good shape."

With a win today, the Flyers will have a chance close out the series on Monday night and advance to the Stanley Cup finals. A loss and the series will be knotted, negating their two-game lead, with Montreal holding momentum's edge.

"We have an opportunity," Laviolette said. "The objective is to win four games and do it as quickly and efficiently as you can. You've got to live with the good ones, you've got to live with the bad ones. We want to go home 3-1. We do not want to go home 2-2.

"Most teams would like to do it 4-0. That rarely happens. Usually, you've got to fight."

Slap shots

In addition to Ian Laperriere, Jeff Carter also skated yesterday, with Andreas Nodl and Riley Cote . . . Former Flyer Eric Desjardins, who lives in the Montreal area, was spotted yesterday at the Bell Centre . . . No player missed the Flyers' 30-minute skate . . . Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges said his cross-check to Claude Giroux' face, which left Giroux with a bloody lip, was "in no way intentional" . . . Montreal worked its home-ice-advantage rite of last line change in Game 3 to exploit defensemen Ryan Parent and Lukas Krajicek. Parent played 10 minutes, 32 seconds, which, aside from the 6-0 blowout in Game 1, was his most ice-time since Game 2 in Boston.

For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at http://go.philly.com/frequentflyers.