Canadiens lucky to come away with point in 3-2 shootout loss to Flyers

A disappointing performance against Martin St. Louis’s old coach John Tortorella as Habs get outshot 39-19 with Cayden Primeau in goal.

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When it comes to fiery coach John Tortorella, players seem to either love playing for him or they hate it.

Martin St. Louis loved having Tortorella as his coach for seven years with the Tampa Bay Lightning. That relationship started in the 2000-01 season after St. Louis signed with the Lightning as a free agent following two unproductive seasons with the Calgary Flames, scoring four goals in 69 games. They won the Stanley Cup together in 2004 with the Lightning when St. Louis also won the Hart Trophy as league MVP and the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer.

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On Wednesday night, St. Louis and Tortorella coached against each other in Philadelphia. Tortorella came out on top as his Flyers beat the Canadiens 3-2 in a shootout.

Owen Tippett and Morgan Frost scored for the Flyers in regulation time and Sean Couturier scored the only goal in the shootout.

Sean Monahan and David Savard scored for the Canadiens. Nick Suzuki, Cole Caufield and Jesse Ylönen all failed to score in the shootout as the Canadiens saw their record drop to 17-17-6. Only eight of their wins have come in regulation time and they have a 9-6 record in shootout/overtime games.

Cayden Primeau stole a point for the Canadiens, making 37 saves as his team was outshot 39-19, including 7-1 in overtime. Primeau’s record is now 4-4-1 with a 3.13 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage.

The Canadiens were outshot 10-2 in the first period, but were leading 2-1. Monahan scored his 11th goal of the season on a deflection of a point shot by Justin Barron at the 1:29 mark and Savard gave the Canadiens a 2-0 lead when he scored his fourth goal of the season on a point shot at 11:28. Monahan is now tied for second on the Canadiens in goals with Caufield, one behind Nick Suzuki.

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Tippett scored at 15:41 of the first period and Frost tied the score at 8:30 of the second period.

Primeau had some help from his goalposts, starting 30 seconds into the game when Scott Laughton beat him high to the glove side with a backhand, but hit the post. It was one of six posts the Flyers hit, including one in the shootout by Travis Konecny.

“I feel like that was personally my sloppiest game off the start this year,” Primeau told reporters in Philadelphia after the game. “But tried to battle back and just give the guys a chance to win.

“My brain was in it off the start, but my feet were struggling a bit,” Primeau added. “I was caught behind on a couple of plays. Third period I felt good.”

Asked if he thanked his goalposts after the game, Primeau said: “Definitely. They hit a couple of posts, so goalie’s best friend.”

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St. Louis said the Canadiens didn’t have their “fastball” on this night and didn’t play a good game.

That’s very true and it must have been extra-disappointing for St. Louis coming against his former coach.

“I felt like I grew up in Tampa and Torts helped me, shaped me, I guess, and gave me opportunities,” St. Louis told reporters in Philadelphia after the morning skate. “But also taught me a lot of things about what it takes to play in this league and how to be successful and the work ethic. Away from the game, he’s such a great human and so I lean on him still to this day. He’s a guy that I’m not afraid to pick up the phone and call. I got a lot of respect how he does things, how he goes about his business. So I feel very fortunate that we crossed paths at a young time in my career where I needed a little help to get going, sort of speak, in terms of opportunities. I forced him to give it to me.

“For me with Torts, we had a good relationship,” St. Louis added. “It wasn’t always smooth, but we communicated very well. Torts pushed me to a higher place that I didn’t think I could get to. … You knew where you stood with Torts. But he wasn’t afraid of having hard conversations with players and you were allowed to tell your truth, too. So I really respect that.”

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This is Tortorella’s second season behind the Flyers’ bench. They finished seventh in the Metropolitan Division last season with a 31-38-13 record, but are in third place this season and in a playoff spot with a 21-14-6 record.

Tortorella told reporters in Philadelphia after the morning skate that St. Louis is one of the greatest competitors he ever coached. He added that they remain very good friends and still talk a lot, throwing around coaching ideas. Tortorella also noted that as he gets older he finds it tougher to coach against his friends, including Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan.

“When the game starts, it’s not Marty, it’s the Montreal Canadiens for me,” Tortorella said about coaching against St. Louis. “There’s always competition — I think that’s why we’re in the business. You always want to beat the other team, it’s not the one particular person.”

But this win must have been a little extra-special for Tortorella.

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