MONTREAL - With the shocking news that captain Chris Pronger's season was over, the Flyers gave another gritty, sleeves-rolled-up effort on Thursday night at the Bell Centre.
And produced another victory.
Defenseman Andrej Meszaros snapped a 3-3 tie by scoring on a long blast with 11 minutes, 52 seconds left, keying the Flyers' 4-3 win over Montreal.
It was the seventh straight victory for the Flyers, their longest winning streak since an eight-gamer in 2002.
The Flyers stand atop the Eastern Conference despite having three players sidelined with concussions.
Meszaros one-timed a pass from Jaromir Jagr, whipping it past Montreal goalie Carey Price on the short side.
The Flyers, 7-0 in December, got three assists from Matt Carle, Pronger's usual defense partner.
"It was not an easy game tonight, and those guys deserve a tremendous amount of credit for the way they played, the way they competed and fought for a win," coach Peter Laviolette said.
The players didn't learn about Pronger's status until after the game.
"Certainly, the news is not what we wanted," Laviolette said. "It's hard to replace a guy like that. He plays 26, 27 minutes a night, and there's not one person in the organization we can find somewhere to replace him.
"In saying that, we've been moving forward here for a while now without Chris and recently without Claude [Giroux]. . . . Those injuries are tough to take, and our team has responded very well. That's evident in the fact we continue to win hockey games."
Without Pronger, "we're going to have to play a team game every night," Meszaros said. "We did it in Washington [Tuesday]. Everybody chipped in, and everybody did tonight."
The Flyers are 12-4-1 without Pronger this season, and 8-3-2 with him.
"I think it says a lot about the character of this team this year," said winger Wayne Simmonds, who scored a goal for the fourth straight game. "We've had a lot of injuries, and we've still been playing pretty well."
Winger Scott Hartnell said the Flyers have thrived recently because they have gone back to the basics.
"Just simple hockey, I think," said Hartnell, who had his six-game goal-scoring streak snapped. "It's fun hockey. It's in-your-face, skating all the time, getting pucks deep, and not trying to be fancy."
In a surprising move, Laviolette gave goalie Sergei Bobrovsky the start. It was surprising because Laviolette usually goes with the hot hand, and Ilya Bryzgalov had won the previous six games.
Bobrovsky had a 3-1 win over Montreal on Nov. 25, while Bryzgalov dropped a 5-1 decision to the Habs on Oct. 26.
Laviolette said those results had nothing to do with his decision. He said he was "managing the schedule" and that Bobrovksy needed to get some work.
"I'm excited to get him in there; he's a great goaltender," Laviolette said before the game. "He's played well for us."
Bobrovsky was outstanding in the first period, making 12 saves - several of them acrobatic - as the Flyers built a 1-0 lead on Max Talbot's ninth goal of the season, one more than he scored in 82 games with Pittsburgh last year.
"Everyone needs to chip in a little more," Talbot said of life without No. 20, the Flyers' unquestioned leader - on and off the ice.
"24/7" a hit. Because their hotel did not have HBO, most of the Flyers did not see the first installment of 24/7 on Wednesday. The series follows the Flyers and New York Rangers leading up to the Jan. 2 Winter Classic at Citizens Bank Park.
Those who did see it, including rookie wingers Matt Read and Zac Rinaldo, gave it glowing reviews.
"I loved it," Rinaldo said before Thursday's game. "There was a little bit of humor, a little bit of seriousness. It was the best of both worlds."
Laviolette didn't see the show, but he apparently was read the riot act by his wife, Kristen, for dropping so many expletives. He used five before the opening credits rolled.
"She texted me after the first two minutes," Laviolette said with a smirk, adding that his two sons, Peter and Jack, watched the episode.
According the Philadelphia Sports Daily, Rangers coach John Tortorella won the expletive battle with Laviolette, 10-8.
Bryzgalov, the Flyers' goalie/philosopher, stole the show with his comical comments about the "humongous" universe and China's laws on killing tigers.