About Last Night: Primeau stakes claim for backup job in loss

Cayden Primeau made 37 saves but it wasn’t enough in a 3-2 shootout loss against the Phladelphia Flyers.

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In front of friends and family, Cayden Primeau nearly stole a game against his hometown team. In the end, the Philadelphia Flyers reversed a two-goal deficit to beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 in a shootout at Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night.

Primeau made 37 saves in the loss, including seven in a dominant overtime period for the Flyers. The home team also hit six posts.

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The Canadiens scored on their first two shots on Philly goalie Samuel Ersson, but they failed to get many more shots the rest of the way: if not for a solitary shot in overtime, they would’ve matched a season low with just 18 shots on goal.

Not only did the Habs score on their first two shots, those were the only two shots they got in the first period. Sean Monahan opened scoring at 1:29, tipping home a Justin Barron shot.

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About 10 minutes later, David Savard shot a changeup through traffic that hit a body in front and floated behind Ersson. Juraj Slafkovsky was awarded the goal originally, but ended up with a secondary assist.

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Not only did the Flyers bounce back, but they were dominant pretty much from start to finish. Owen Tippett got the home team on the board to close out the first period. Philly nearly scored again after a chaotic scene in front of Primeau, but upon review the puck never conclusively crossed the line. 2-1 Habs after 20 minutes.

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New arrival Jamie Drysdale, acquired in the Cutter-Gauthier trade with the Anaheim Ducks that rocked the hockey world, contributed in his first game for his new club. The smooth-skating defenceman fed Morgan Frost for a power-play marker to tie the game up at 2-2 in the second period.

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Ersson and Primeau faced a lot of rubber in the third period, 10 for the former and 15 for the latter, but the game still went to overtime. Other than a late breakaway by Anderson, it was all Philly in the extra frame, but Primeau saved his team’s bacon. He also made two more saves in the shootout, but Sean Couturier hit the back of the net and the Habs couldn’t solve Ersson, giving the Flyers the win.

Hockey Stat Cards was surprisingly rosy about Montreal’s performance last night. Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Mike Matheson struggled.

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Other than Primeau, the liveblog commenters weren’t too pleased about last night’s loss. Flyers coach John Tortorella and Martin St. Louis go way back to the first Lightning Cup days, so perhaps this was a moment of the teacher still having some lessons to teach his young grasshopper. The Flyers solved the Habs early and often, and only a highly motivated Primeau and a few posts kept this game from getting uglier.

But about Primeau: we’ve entered a new year and the three-headed goalie situation remains a topic of conversation. It might be a small sample size, but Primeau’s .905 save percentage is almost on par with Sam Montembeault’s .906. If this season was do or die time for Primeau, he’s proving he can hold down an NHL job.

3. “How many two-goal leads have we blown this year?” — Derek Stevens

2. “Probably one of the worst games I’ve Suzuki play.” — Marc Taillefer

1. “Disappointing game, weak effort from most of the team. Primeau showed he should be our #2 behind Monty.” — Bob Taylor

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