PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Michal Handzus's transition to the Eastern
Conference is going just fine.
The Flyers, eliminated in the first round of the playoffs for
the fourth time in five seasons last spring, are off to a 4-1-2
start under new coach Ken Hitchcock. Montreal is winless in its
last three games.
Handzus, the only significant addition by Philadelphia in the
offseason, has made an immediate impact, particularly as a
penalty-killer. He spent his first five seasons with St. Louis and
Phoenix in the Western Conference.
"The West is more wide open,'' said Handzus, who came to the
Flyers along with backup goaltender Robert Esche in a trade that
sent goalie Brian Boucher and a draft pick to the Coyotes. "Here,
you have to play hard physically, get through more checks. It's
Hitchcock is pleased with Handzus' performance in the first
"He's a player because of his strength and size who could be a
20-plus minute player,'' Hitchcock said. "He's an extremely strong
player and the more he plays, the better he plays.''
Primeau's first goal of the season gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead
2:26 into the second period. He one-timed a crossing pass from
Justin Williams past goaltender Jose Theodore. Handzus made it 3-1
just 2:03 later with his second goal of the season. Theodore made a
stick save on a shot by Todd Fedoruk, but the rebound went right to
Handzus, who was alone in front of the net.
Handzus then scored shorthanded to make it 4-1 just 6:39 into
the second period. The goal sent Theodore to the bench in favor of
Jeff Hackett. Theodore, who won the Hart Trophy for NHL MVP and the
Vezina Trophy for best goaltender last season, is 1-3-1 and has
allowed 20 goals in five games.
"Every time you pull a goalie, it's because you aren't
satisfied and the team is in trouble,'' Canadiens coach Michel
Flyers goalie Roman Cechmanek made 18 saves but wasn't
Montreal cut it to 4-2 on Zednik's power-play goal with 6:34
left in the second period. Primeau's second goal 1:57 into the
third period made it 5-2.
The Flyers didn't get their first shot until Justin Williams
took one eight minutes into the game. Murray then scored less than
a minute later to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Brendl set up the
goal with a crossing pass from the right side.
Koivu tied it at 1 just 2:01 later with his third goal on a shot
that went between Cechmanek's legs.
"I don't know what we changed styles from the first part of the
game,'' Koivu said. "We came out strong and then, boom, boom,
boom, it's 4-1.''
Montreal had gone 5-0-2 in Philadelphia since losing 5-2 at
the First Union Center on Feb. 4, 1999. ... John LeClair has 28
goals and 16 assists in 30 games against his former team. ...
Zednik played his 100th game with the Canadiens. ... Koivu has at
least one point in five straight games. ... Montreal has allowed
the first goal in each of its seven games. ... Murray left the game
with a strained groin.