MONTREAL — Nothing like coming off a win against a weak opponent like Carolina and then having to face the No. 1 club in the East.
Still, that was the Flyers' task Monday night at Bell Centre against Carey Price and the Canadiens during a very well-played 3-1 loss.
Dave Hakstol’s Flyers gave the Canadiens all they could handle and deserved a point.
Brendan Gallagher’s power-play tip broke a 1-1 tie at 13:08 of the third period.
Jakub Voracek’s second-period tip was his third goal in six games. It took him 33 games last season to score three. That unit with Sean Couturier and Travis Konecny created chances all night. On the goal, however, Claude Giroux had come onto the ice for Couturier as part of a change.
Steve Mason had a terrific pad stop on Paul Byron’s first-period breakaway up the left side of the ice. Phillip Danault drove the net twice on Mason from great distance to force a stop. That sequence was repeated too often. Shea Weber’s point shot in the second period shattered Brayden Schenn’s stick, but Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald blocked Mason’s vision in the paint and it became a goal. Mason had several point-blank saves in this one. If not for those, it would have been a rout.
The Flyers' first one was brutal. They managed just one shot while the Habs cleared the puck four times. The Flyers didn’t get another power play.
Couturier had a block at the point near the end of one PP. However, he could not get his stick cleanly on it while being trapped by two Canadiens as he tried to come up ice. If the puck had squirted cleanly out of the zone, he might have had a breakaway. The Habs were 1 for 4 on the power play.
Wayne Simmonds, after coming out of the box for serving a holding call early in the game, nailed Habs defenseman Andrei Markov along the side board with a cross check that sent the defenseman face first into the boards. That will be reviewed. Markov stayed down to sell the penalty that never came. Alexander Radulov rattled Nick Cousins that period, as well, and was called for interference.
Radko Gudas (suspended) and Dale Weise (suspended). Scott Laughton (knee), Michael Del Zotto (knee) and Michael Raffl (abdominal pull).
The Flyers are playing back-to-back games and will host the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center. This is the Flyers' second set of consecutive games since the season began on Oct. 14.
MONTREAL — It figures to be the hardest decision that Flyers coach Dave Hakstol has to make, but if Radko Gudas is to enter the lineup Tuesday against Buffalo, someone has to come out.
And what happens with the Flyers tonight in Montreal could impact that.
A year ago, in the blink of an eye, people would suggest Brandon Manning as the obvious pick to exit the lineup.
Yet since the preseason, the guy they call “Man Dog” — sometimes Hakstol refers to him as “Mad Dog” — has been the Flyers' best two-way defenseman. And he’s done it despite suffering a left shoulder injury in training camp.
Hakstol has so much faith in Manning that he switched up rookie Ivan Provorov so the 26-year-old Manning could settle the 19-year-old down. Given the ages here, that’s saying something.
Manning admits he felt honored being asked to be a mentor.
“As a young player, I’ve been in the same situation,” he said. “Obviously, last year being my rookie season, it was different.
“But just being a little older, having a lot of experience in the American League, I just wanted to make him comfortable out there. Make it as easy as possible for him.”
Through five games, Manning has a goal and four points and is a team-high plus-5. While the Flyers may have missed Gudas' physical edge, there’s no way Manning will be the odd man out “if” Hakstol makes a lineup change against the Sabres.
Even if he does make a move, Manning is supremely confident he’s earned his keep. He has been defensively sound without the puck, challenging entries at the blue line, handling his man down low and generating offense when he has a chance.
The Flyers gave him a two-year, $1.95 million contract in July to avoid an arbitration hearing.
“My attitude after I got the new contract was I wanted to present myself as a top-six D-man,” Manning said. “A lot of people are saying, ‘He’s a seven or eight,’ but I don’t listen to that stuff.
“Coming into the season, I saw myself as a top-six guy, I felt good in the playoffs ... just continue to get better and grow.”
Hakstol says he’s seen significant growth in Manning’s game.
“Steady improvement,” Hakstol said. “Last year was the first time he was able to get into a stretch of games. He knows he is in the lineup and what his role is.
“You got to be careful about reading into the last couple months of last season because sometimes that doesn’t carry over. But we see continued, confident, reliable, two-way play out of Mad Dog. He continued that again the other night [against Carolina].”
Hakstol said he liked the result of moving Mark Streit back with his old partner, Nick Schultz, and giving Manning a rookie to school a bit.
“They were a solid pair,” he said.
The Flyers' lineup tonight against Les Canadiens is unchanged from Carolina.
Manning says he has seen the biggest improvement in his play when compared to two years ago. Playing consistently in the lineup since last season has allowed his game to evolve a bit.
Manning came here in the fall of 2010 as an undrafted free agent and had already played more than three seasons in the Western Hockey League, where he began his pro career. By 2011, he was with the Phantoms. There were Flyer call-ups here and there but nothing of substance until last season, when he played 56 games in the NHL, largely because of injuries across Hakstol’s blue line. He and Gudas were a strong pairing from early-February to season’s end.
“The finish last year gave me a lot of confidence,” Manning said. “This year, more ice time, a little 4-on-4, playing on the penalty kill allows you to become more involved in the game.
“I’ve taken that on and tried to build off it. If you look at my career from junior, I’ve gotten better every single year.”
As for the nickname, it was one of the few lasting treasures left behind by Harry Zolnierczyk during the Peter Laviolette era. Except some people still call him Mad Dog, which is why Manning wears an undergarment that says “Man Dog.”
“Last year, Hak and Lappy started called me Mad Dog and then sometimes it’s Man Dog,” Manning. “I think he should know. It’s on my shirt.”
Hakstol is aware.
“He has a nickname and I have mine [for him],” Hakstol laughed.
Dale Weise’s three-game suspension won’t end until after the Buffalo game. He still has declined to talk about it.
His previous suspension was in 2013, when he was in Vancouver and had an illegal hit on Taylor Hall during an exhibition game.
Weise admits he badly wanted to play tonight against his former club.
“I look forward to playing here but we play here [again] in two weeks,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t come here twice a year.
“If it had been the end of the year, I would have been a little upset. It’s nice to come back in two weeks.”