Flyers will try to pick up pieces against Habs

PHILADELPHIA -- For some reason, long breaks in the season have disastrous effects on the Philadelphia Flyers. A week after getting humbled by the New York Islanders in their first game back from their bye week, the Flyers returned from the NHL All-Star break on Tuesday and got trounced by the Carolina Hurricanes.

On Thursday night in Philadelphia, the Flyers will try to pick up the pieces against the Atlantic Division-leading Montreal Canadiens, who are coming off Tuesday night's 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

"It's just a devastating performance and we just weren't ready," Flyers defenseman Mark Streit told the South Jersey Courier-Post of Tuesday night's 5-1 loss in Raleigh. "It's tough for me to explain because at this time of year everyone is battling for a playoff spot and you come out flat after a break where you should be energized."

The Flyers had won three games in a row prior to the All-Star break but tied a season low with just 16 shots.

"Just a real dismal effort on all fronts," defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. "They were all over us. We didn't forecheck. We didn't defend well, just all around a terrible game."

Second-year defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere was a minus-2 in Tuesday's loss, bringing his season total to a minus-19. Last year's runner-up for the Calder Trophy has now gone 27 games without a goal and is expected to be a healthy scratch for the third time this season on Thursday night against the Canadiens.

"It's definitely frustrating, but it's more frustrating to be on the ice for goals against," Gostisbehere said. "I really don't care about points or scoring goals. My first job is to play defense. Sometimes the way the pucks are going in the net I feel like I have bad luck, but again I can't just use that as an excuse. I just look at that and say I can do a lot better myself."

The Canadiens, meanwhile, are coming off a big home win over the Sabres. Goaltender Carey Price, who spent his All-Star weekend ducking shots from players like P.K. Subban and Patrick Kane, was outstanding in Tuesday night's win, turning aside 37 shots for the win.

Price is expected to get the start against the Flyers, who played poorly in front of Steve Mason in Tuesday night's loss.

The Canadiens are also expected to get Alex Galchenyuk back in the lineup. The talented center missed three games with a knee injury. Defenseman Jeff Petry, who missed Tuesday night's win with an illness, is also expected to be back for the Habs.

That leaves only forward Brendan Gallagher (hand injury) still on the injured list. Gallagher is expected to return in about four weeks.

"The last two months were pretty rough health-wise, and we were still capable of maintaining our quality of play compared to last year," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said on Wednesday. "That's good news for us. Obviously, it's a big boost to get some of our players back, and we saw an example (on Tuesday) even if we were still missing three really important players in Petry, (Galchenyuk) and Gallagher. Those are three pieces of that puzzle that are crucial for us, but we got some guys back and you felt the energy. Those guys, when they're back, it gives the team confidence."

Max Pacioretty was the real difference maker against the Sabres, recording his second hat trick of the season and sixth of his career.
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