It has taken three years for the Montreal Canadiens to make the Molson Centre a home.
Even the fearsome, albeit slumping Philadelphia Flyers found it less inviting Tuesday night as the Canadiens used third-period goals by Shayne Corson, Jonas Hoglund and Martin Rucinsky to post a 4-1 victory.
"Two months ago, we surely would have lost this game," said center Saku Koivu, whose Canadiens have won five in a row at home and are six games over .500 at the Molson Centre for the first time since leaving the Forum in March 1996.
"We've got to be happy with the way we're playing now," added Koivu. "We've just played maybe the two best teams in the league and we've won two in a row."
"But all the teams close to us are also winning. Every game is a big one now."
The Canadiens play Wednesday night in Pittsburgh, but have six of their next eight games at home, where the breaks are suddenly falling in their favor.
The Flyers outshot Montreal 31-11 in the opening two periods and 38-17 overall, but the teams went int the third period tied 1-1 after Rod Brind'Amour opened the scoring and Montreal's Stephane Quintal tied it 1:11 later in the middle period.
For the Flyers, who led the conference a week ago but who have since dropped to fourth place, it was a season-high fourth loss in a row and left them 2-8-2 in their last dozen games.
"This has gone on a little longer than you expect," Philadelphia coach Roger Neilson said. "We played probably as well as we can play for two periods and it was 1-1. "
"That's the way it's going."
It was the Flyers' fifth consecutive defeat on the road.
"If you're not concerned, you're in the wrong business," said defenseman Eric Desjardins. "We need to be concerned a lot. "
"We've got to stop wondering who is going to be the big star, the big hero, and go back to playing a simple game."
Mark Recchi backhanded a pass in front of the Philadelphia net and Corson spun around and swept it between John Vanbiesbrouck's pads for his 10th goal of the season. That put Montreal ahead 39 seconds into the third period.
Hoglund redirected Patrice Brisebois' pass by Vanbiesbrouck for an insurance goal at 7:06 and Rucinsky added his team-leading 15th of the season at 8:28.
Philadelphia dominated the faceoff circles and forced numerous turnovers, but Jeff Hackett made some remarkable saves and the Flyers squandered several chances.
Brind'Amour won a faceoff from Koivu and went to the net to bang Dmitri Tertyshny's rebound into an open side for his 20th goal of the season at 9:49 of the second period.
But Koivu led a rush into the Flyers zone and dropped the puck to Quintal, whose low shot beat Vanbiesbrouck to tie the game at 11:00.
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