PHILADELPHIA — With the Flyers hoping for a playoff push ahead, Wayne Simmonds showed he just might lead the charge.
Simmonds scored two goals and led Philadelphia to a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.
He snapped a tie in the third period with his 16th of the season, sparking the Flyers to the second-half start they needed. Simmonds has four goals and two assists over the last six games.
“If I can get open, I know they’ll find me,” Simmonds said.
Brayden Schenn also scored for the Flyers. Matt Read added an empty-netter in the final seconds and Steve Mason stopped 30 shots.
Andrei Markov and Jeff Petry scored for Montreal.
“We got some quality scoring chances, but I believe that Mason got the first star tonight and this isn’t the first time that this has happened to us lately,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. “Every goalie that we face, they seem really comfortable playing against us.”
The Flyers have 15 games in February — Tuesday marked the first of eight in 13 days — and they entered five points out of an Eastern Conference wild-card spot. That’s certainly enough of a load for any team, but this could be the month that determines if Philadelphia is playoff-ready or still another season or two from contending for the Stanley Cup.
Winners in seven of their last 11 games, the Flyers play six against their Metropolitan Division rivals and 10 versus teams in the East. They have three sets of back-to-back games during that span.
Under rookie coach Dave Hakstol, the Flyers are trying to make the playoffs for the second time in four seasons.
The Canadiens have stumbled since a strong start and scored only 48 goals (1.92 per game) since December _ a steep drop from the 3.52 they averaged before the season went south.
By their standards, the Canadiens went on a scoring spree Tuesday, wiping out a 2-0 deficit by the third period. Markov scored his third goal of the season when he knocked in a wild rebound off the boards with 1:42 left in the first.
Petry scored 2:30 into the second from the circle to make it 2-all.
Simmonds saved the Flyers at the end after putting them on the board in the first.
Philadelphia grabbed a 2-0 lead in the first by getting power-play goals from Simmonds and Schenn, who had an assist on Simmonds’ 15th of the season.
“I went to the net with my stick on the ice and Brayden made a great pass for a tap-in back door,” Simmonds said.
The Flyers have power-play goals in five straight games.
“Right now we have a shoot mentality,” defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “If we all keep shooting it’s going to open up other things and that’s what it’s been doing.”
The Canadiens played without All-Star Game MVP John Scott. He remained stuck in the minors with Montreal’s AHL affiliate, the St. John’s Ice Caps, even after his two-goal effort and feel-good story made him the hit of All-Star weekend.
But Scott, more a brawler than a scorer, might not have been able to help the reeling Canadiens in Philadelphia.
“I feel like we’ve got a confident group,” Montreal centre Nathan Beaulieu said. “I know it’s easy when a team is struggling to point fingers, but we’re a positive group.”
NOTES: Flyers backup goalie Michal Neuvirth is out seven to 10 days with a lower-body injury. Anthony Stolarz was recalled from the AHL. … The Flyers will play April 10 at the New York Islanders in a game rescheduled because of the recent snowstorm on the East Coast. … Flyers D Radko Gudas was given a 5-minute major for clipping and received a game misconduct for a hit on forward Lucas Lessio. … Flyers C Claude Giroux had an assist and has 10 points in the last eight games.