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Habs pushed to the brink

The Montreal Canadiens are one game away from elimination despite yetanother night of outshooting and outchancing the Philadelphia Flyers.


FLYERS 4 - CANADIENS 2

The Montreal Canadiens are one game away from elimination despite yet another night of outshooting and outchancing the Philadelphia Flyers.

But Flyers goalie Martin Biron yet again was brilliant — and the difference — as Philadelphia beat the Canadiens 4-2 last night to take a commanding 3-1 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal.

Daniel Briere’s power-play goal with 3:38 remaining in the third period lifted the Flyers to the victory after Montreal had scored 37 seconds apart in the third period to pull even.

R.J. Umberger had a pair, his second into an empty net, and Scott Hartnell also scored for the Flyers, who can advance to the NHL’s Eastern Conference final with a win tomorrow night at Montreal in Game 5.

Saku Koivu and Tomas Plekanec scored for the Canadiens, who have dropped five of their past seven playoff games.

For a third consecutive game, the Canadiens outshot the Flyers, this time 38-26, and spent most of the night in their zone. But their inability to finish off on scoring chances did them in again. The power play also continued to struggle, going 0-for-4 on the night. They’re now 7-for-51 in the playoffs, absolutely brutal for a team that was No. 1 in the NHL with the man advantage during the regular season.

But this is the post-season, and the young Canadiens are showing signs they aren’t ready for prime time just yet. They struggled to dispose of the eighth-seeded Boston Bruins in seven games in the first round and now they’re almost surely going down to defeat to the sixth-seeded Flyers.

At least this time Carey Price wasn’t to blame.

On the day he was announced as a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau made the gutsy decision to start Jaroslav Halak ahead of his prized rookie Price, who had lost four of his last six starts and had been pulled from Monday’s third game. Halak stopped 23 of 25 shots, but the spark Carbonneau was hoping to get from the surprising move didn’t materialize.

 
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