Series (Game 2 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 2

(2-3-0, 6 pts)

Flyers 6

(4-1-0, 10 pts)

7:00 PM ET, October 24, 2002

Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1 2 3 T
MTL 1 1 02
PHI 1 3 26

M. Handzus (Flyers - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 1

K. Primeau (Flyers - C): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

P. Brendl (Flyers - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Flyers' Handzus scores both goals in second period

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Michal Handzus's transition to the Eastern Conference is going just fine.

Michael Handzus

Handzus scored twice during a 2:10 span in the second period Thursday night to lead the Philadelphia Flyers to a 6-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

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.

Keith Primeau also had two goals and Marty Murray and Pavel Brendl each scored one for Philadelphia. Saku Koivu and Richard Zednik had Montreal's goals.

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 more defensive.''

Hitchcock is pleased with Handzus' performance in the first seven games.

"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 Therrien said.

Flyers goalie Roman Cechmanek made 18 saves but wasn't challenged much.

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.''

Game notes

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.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press