MONTREAL - With Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger injured and in the locker room, the Montreal Canadiens turned the third period into their own personal shooting gallery Wednesday night.
But the Flyers withstood the Canadiens' furious comeback and won it with a counterattack of their own, outlasting Montreal, 5-3, at the earsplitting Bell Centre.
They took the lead for good on James van Riemsdyk's second goal of the night, a power-play tally with 5 minutes, 33 seconds left that keyed their fourth straight win.
Van Riemsdyk knocked in a rebound after Jeff Carter's shot was turned aside by Carey Price, and Nik Zherdev won a battle for the loose puck.
The recently formed Carter line had the first four Flyers goals, with Carter and Zherdev also scoring.
"The puck seemed to just be following our line around tonight," said van Riemsdyk, who has seven goals in his last 12 games after failing to score in his first 17 contests.
About a minute after van Riemsdyk's score - marking the second two-goal game of his career - Claude Giroux converted a Mike Richards pass to make it 5-3. It was Giroux's 16th goal, equaling his output for the entire 2009-10 season.
"We didn't have our legs tonight; it was evident," said Richards, whose team played one night after an emotional win over Pittsburgh. "We turned a lot of pucks over and our execution was off, but we found a way to win the hockey game, and that's the important thing."
As for Pronger, he played 15:54 in the first two periods but suffered what the team called a lower-body injury and did not play in the final period. He will be reexamined Thursday.
Pronger was not available after the game, but a Flyers spokesman said the defenseman did not appear to be in much pain.
After Zherdev's wraparound goal gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead early in the third period, Montreal stormed back. The Habs got goals from Tomas Plekanec (rebound) and Brian Gionta - a soft goal that trickled through Sergei Bobrovsky's pads - to tie the score at 3 with 10:05 left.
Until that goal, Bobrovsky had played brilliantly. He finished with 38 saves in his first start in a week.
The Flyers, now 5-1-2 in the second night of back-to-back contests this year, had Richards centering Giroux and Andreas Nodl for the second straight game. Van Riemsdyk, who had been on Richards' line until Tuesday, was with Carter and Zherdev.
In the last two games, Giroux and van Riemsdyk switched lines. Carter was back at his favorite spot, center, and Giroux was shifted to right wing on the other line.
Carter demonstrated his speed as he scored his 13th goal and gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead with 17.6 seconds left in the first period.
Skating past defenseman Alexandre Picard, Carter darted through the right circle, cut in front, and beat Price with a backhander.
A rejuvenated van Riemsdyk gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead when he scored from a tough angle on the left, whipping a shot that appeared to deflect off defenseman Hal Gill's skate and over Price with 17:27 left in the second.
Playing alongside Carter and Zherdev has helped his game, van Riemsdyk said. "They attract a lot of attention from the other team's defense . . . and I'm able to hang out in the background and get some more opportunities," he said.
Bobrovsky made several spectacular saves before Montreal sliced the deficit to 2-1 with 1:51 left in the second period. P.K. Subban scored on a one-timer from the left circle with the Canadiens on a five-on-three power play.
The Flyers are 18-0-2 when taking a lead into the third period. Conversely, the Habs, who outshot the Flyers, 41-30, are 0-10 when trailing after two periods.
"I really liked the fact we were resilient and got it done," said coach Peter Laviolette, whose team opened a three-point division lead over the Penguins. "We gave the lead back, and then you saw some experience come in and settle us down a little bit."
Even without Pronger.