Read bumps the slump, Flyers stifle the Habs

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Matt Read scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period to end his long drought and lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.

Claude Giroux also scored and Sean Couturier had an empty-netter in the final seconds for the Flyers, who opened a five-game homestand – their longest of the season – by winning their fourth in the last five.

Nikita Nesterov scored for the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens. Montreal’s 16 shots were a season low and also marked the fewest Philadelphia has allowed in a game this season.

Following Tuesday’s disheartening 5-1 loss at Carolina in which the Flyers had just six shots through 2 1/2 periods, coach Dave Hakstol benched 23-year-old defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere and 19-year-old forward Travis Konecny.

Hakstol kept Read in the lineup, however, even though the Philadelphia forward hadn’t scored a goal since Nov. 3.

Read put Philadelphia in front with a perfectly placed slap shot from the slot on a 3-on-2 break with 16:28 left. Couturier set up the chance and Read finished it by beating Carey Price over his right shoulder into the top corner of the net.

Michal Neuvirth kept Philadelphia in front with a strong save on Paul Byron from close range 3 1/2 minutes later.

Neuvirth didn’t have a lot of work, finishing with 15 saves to help the Flyers improve to 10-0-1 in their last 11 home games against Montreal.

Price stopped 21 shots.

This is an important homestand for the Flyers, who began the day with a tenuous hold on the Eastern Conference’s final playoff spot. Philadelphia was one point in front of Toronto for the second wild card, but eight teams were within seven points of the Flyers.

Giroux tied it on the power play with 2:10 left in the second period. The captain’s wrist shot from the top of the left circle trickled through Price’s legs.

Nesterov, playing his second game for the Canadiens, scored his fourth of the season and first since being acquired from Tampa Bay last Thursday on a slap shot 4:51 in.

Alex Galchenyuk, returning from a three-game absence due to a knee injury, made a cross-ice pass and Nesterov fired the puck past Neuvirth.