Series (Game 4 of 4)

Philadelphia leads 4-0

Game 1: Tuesday, October 15th
Game 2: Thursday, October 24th
Game 3: Saturday, November 30th
Game 4: Thursday, January 16th

Canadiens 1

(18-19-4, 45 pts)

Flyers 4

(24-11-1, 57 pts)

7:00 PM ET, January 16, 2003

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1 2 3 T
MTL 1 0 01
PHI 0 1 34

J. Vandermeer (Flyers - D): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

A. Johnson (D):

J. Hackett (Canadiens - G): Saves: 37, Save Pct.: .925

Sacco scores first goal since March 30, 2001

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Joe Sacco wasted little time in making an impact with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Sacco, playing in his first game with Philadelphia, scored the tiebreaker early in the third period to help the Flyers beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-1 on Thursday night.

"I tried to stay calm and patient out there and stick to the team's game plan," said Sacco, a 12-year veteran who was signed to a free-agent contract Wednesday. "I didn't want to get too excited and try and do everything out there."

Sacco threw the puck toward the front of the net. Michal Handzus spun around, shot between his legs and hit the post. Sacco then skated in and hammered home the rebound to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead at 3:04 of the final period. It was his first goal since March 30, 2001, when he was playing for the Washington Capitals.

"Scoring goals is not the main focus to me," said Sacco, who had no goals and seven assists in 65 games with Washington last season. "I'm here to play good defensive hockey. If I can chip in (offensively) that's great."

Sacco played well enough in six games (four goals, three assists) with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL, to be signed for the rest of the NHL season.

"It's been a whirlwind the past three weeks," Sacco said. "Obviously this is just one game. I want to stay here and I've got a lot to improve on."

Handzus flipped in a wrist shot from the slot with 4:09 left to make it 3-1, and Chris Therien scored an empty-net goal with 13 seconds left.

Philadelphia's Jim Vandermeer scored his first career goal late in the second period to tie the game at 1.

The Flyers, who had their six-game winning streak snapped by a loss to Atlanta on Tuesday, outshot Montreal 41-17 and only sharp goaltending by Jeff Hackett kept the Canadiens close.

Philadelphia captain Keith Primeau said that the Flyers' new-found depth with Sacco and Vandermeer proved the difference.

"We talk about our depth and our ability to use all four lines and all six defensemen," Primeau said. "When you play a game like this and those guys contribute, they're the reason you win these games."

Richard Zednik scored the only goal for the Canadiens, who have won just twice in their last 12 games.

"We played a team tonight that obviously had more ability and they had more jump," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "It seemed that our players were tired. This is not the first time they dominated a team like us tonight and they deserved to win."

Vandermeer, who was recalled from the Phantoms on Wednesday, scored on a wrist shot from the left circle with 5:48 left in the second period. The 22-year-old defenseman played in four games with the Flyers earlier this season.

Zednik, who leads the Canadiens with 20 goals, was left unguarded in the crease and redirected Saku Koivu's shot from the side to give Montreal a 1-0 lead with 9:31 left in the first period.

"It seems that we are losing the battles in the corners and around the boards," Koivu said. "Our forecheck seems like it gives up too easily. It seems like they are always a step ahead. Either it's a mental problem with preparation or it's physical."

Game notes
Montreal had a season-low shots on goal. ... Philadelphia won the three previous games this season, outscoring the Canadiens 14-5. ... Montreal is winless in its last nine road games (0-6-1-2) with five straight losses. ... The Flyers came in with the worst power play in the NHL and failed on two chances with the man advantage.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press