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A game of firsts as Flyers rally to beat Canadiens

PARAPHRASING Mark Twain a bit here, but any rumor of the Flyers' death has been greatly exaggerated. At least for now.

Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and teammate Bruno Gervais celebrate a win over the Montreal Canadiens. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and teammate Bruno Gervais celebrate a win over the Montreal Canadiens. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)Read more

PARAPHRASING Mark Twain a bit here, but any rumor of the Flyers' death has been greatly exaggerated.

At least for now.

The Flyers followed up a pair of wins over the weekend with perhaps the most dramatic victory of the season on Wednesday night, beating visiting Montreal, 5-3.

"We won't give up. We still have a chance," said youngster Sean Couturier, who ended a 27-game streak without a goal. "If we keep winning, we'll be back in the mix."

The Flyers not only have won three in a row for the first time all year, they finally won a game that they had trailed after the first period. They were 0-12 in that situation coming in. So in 12 of their 17 losses, they basically were cooked even before the oven got warm.

Now, they're the ones cooking.

"We just have to keep playing, play a full 60 [minutes] and ride this wave that we're on," said forward Matt Read.

The Flyers are banged up mightily on defense, most notably Braydon Coburn (shoulder separation), Nicklas Grossmann (upper body) and Andrej Meszaros (torn rotator cuff). Their active blue-liners are more green than any other color.

But Wednesday, two of them contributed mightily to the deciding goals. Bruno Gervais, who has been thrust into the top pairing thanks to Coburn's injury, had an assist on a goal off Wayne Simmonds' skate that tied the game with a little more than 5 minutes left.

Then Erik Gustafsson clanged one off Canadiens defenseman Francis Bouillon that ended up being the game-winner. Gustafsson was patiently trying to feed Read, who was creating confusion in front of Montreal netminder Carey Price.

"I don't know if I got a piece of it," Read said afterward. "I'm happy to give it to Gus."

So were the official scorers. It was Gustafsson's first goal of the season.

"We got a lot of [defensemen] that are getting called up, covering the guys that are hurt right now," Read said. "You can't tell if they're minor league players or NHL players right now. You have to give them a lot of credit, playing with the confidence they're playing with right now."

Even Couturier, who was a popular subject of trade inquiries from many of the other general managers around the league, got on the scoring sheet. His second-period score bounced off Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban and past Price. On the scoresheet, however, it might as well be Kurri from Gretzky and Coffey.

The last time Coots scored a goal was Jan. 27.

"It's nice to get the monkey off the back," Couturier said. "Sometimes all you need is a lucky bounce. I'll take it."

The Flyers have 12 games left and still lots of work to do. But they haven't raised the white flag and started calling around for golf reservations.

The last 5 minutes of Wednesday's game allowed them to jump from 13th to 11th place. The Rangers' resounding win over Pittsburgh created an even larger logjam for the final playoff spot. Both New York teams and the Devils occupy the seventh, eighth and ninth spots in the Eastern Conference, with 39 points.

The Flyers are four points back of those three teams, with a very quick turnaround Thursday night up in Toronto.

They packed their bags for a charter immediately after the Montreal win. In addition to sticks and pucks, they also were bringing hope.

"We don't control what other teams do," captain Claude Giroux said. "I saw that the Rangers won. It's something we don't control, so we don't need to stress about it. We just have to worry about our game and getting better. If we keep winning, that's the only way we'll have a chance to get in."

Ice cubes

The Flyers obtained goaltender Steve Mason from Columbus for Michael Leighton and a third-round pick. They also plucked Adam Hall off waivers from Tampa Bay. Hall, 33, has played in 26 games this year and is ostensibly a veteran replacement for Max Talbot, who is out for the season with a broken leg. Hall is expected to make his Flyers debut on Thursday . . . Cal Heeter served as Ilya Bryzgalov's backup on Wednesday. Mason will join the team in Toronto . . . Nick Grossmann (upper-body injury) missed his sixth game, but skated extensively in the morning and appears close to returning . . . With the trade deadline passed, the 23-man roster restriction is lifted and the Flyers are free to recall whomever they please . . . Zac Rinaldo sustained a lower-body injury in the second period and did not return.