The obvious storyline heading into the Flyers’ Thursday evening tilt with the Montreal Canadiens was the return of Danny Briere to Wells Fargo Center for the first time since he was bought out by the Flyers and subsequently signed with the Canadiens this past summer.
And while Briere didn’t score despite registering three shots on goal in 14 minutes, 13 seconds of ice time, that isn’t the reason most people won’t be talking about him after Thursday’s game.
Philadelphia hung on for an important, 2-1 victory over Montreal but the water-cooler talk on Friday will be all about the scrum that ensued after the final horn between Flyers’ goalie Steve Mason and a couple of Habs.
Check it out for yourself:
Insert uncreative, unfunny line from a writer not based in Philadelphia about the Flyers and goalie fights here.
Anyway, from that video, it’s difficult to see exactly what started the melee but Mason was trying to protect his crease and get a good look at the puck as the Canadiens pressured with just a few seconds remaining. He gave Habs’ captain Brian Gionta a shot to the back. Nothing out of the ordinary there. Goalies do that all the time.
Gionta must’ve taken offense to it and said something incredibly flattering to Mason about how good his 20-save performance was because Mason responded with a crosscheck to the chest. Then it got real.
Gionta and fellow Hab Brendan Gallagher – who are 5 feet 7 inches tall and 5 feet 8 inches tall, respectively - jumped Mason. Matt Read jumped to his goalie’s aid and tried to tangle with Gallagher but the linesmen stepped in before long. Gallagher then proceeded to mouth off to the Flyers bench on his way to the locker room. Scott Hartnell, of all people, had to hold back Steve Downie from doing something stupid with the rest of the Montreal players at the red line.
The best part was after the ruckus when Ray Emery did his best Mr. Miyagi impression and smiled and congratulated Mason like Mason just gave Gionta and Gallagher the crane kick.
All that aside, it was a big win for the Flyers.
They responded nicely with a full, 60-minute effort and gave up just 21 Montreal shots a night after allowing seven goals and taking a shellacking in Chicago.
Michael Raffl and Claude Giroux – who played on the same line for the first time after Hartnell was bumped down to the second line with Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn - lit the lamp for the Flyers. The goals were the players’ second and sixth on the season, respectively.
The Canadiens cut the lead to one with just under a minute remaining but the Flyers were able to hang on.
The win enabled Philadelphia to stay just two points behind Carolina for the last Metropolitan Division playoff spot and just four points behind Toronto for the last Wild Card playoff spot.