MONTREAL (AP) Juraj Slafkovsky scored his first career hat trick, and the Montreal Canadiens dealt the stumbling Philadelphia Flyers their eighth straight defeat with a 9-3 blowout win Tuesday night.

The 20-year-old Slafkovsky put Montreal up 4-0 with his third goal on a breakaway midway through the second period and received a deafening standing ovation from the Bell Centre crowd when the goal was announced.

“I’ve never scored a hat trick like this,” he said.

Drafted first overall in 2022, Slafkovsky is up to 19 goals and 48 points after an underwhelming rookie year and a slow start this season.

His offensive turnaround coincides with a jump up to Montreal’s top line alongside Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield in December - something coach Martin St. Louis said Slafkovsky earned with his defensive play.

“He’s done everything I’ve asked him to do,” St. Louis said he thought at the time. “He deserves an opportunity to play with our best player - and he took off.

“But it was earned.”

Christian Dvorak - in his return from a 42-game absence - and Brendan Gallagher both scored twice while Josh Anderson and Joel Armia also found the back of the net for Montreal. Sam Montembeault made 33 saves and Jordan Harris had three assists as the Canadiens snapped a three-game skid.

Ryan Poehling had two goals and Joel Farabee also scored for Philadelphia, which suffered another blow to its end-of-season playoff chase.

Samuel Ersson stopped 12 of 17 shots before getting the hook in the second period. Backup Ivan Fedotov turned away 9 of 13.

The Flyers entered play Tuesday one point behind the Detroit Red Wings for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and two points back of the New York Islanders for third in the Metropolitan Division with one more game played.

“We made a lot of mistakes. Turnovers, coverages, any part of the game there were mistakes,” head coach John Tortorella said. “You’ve got to eat it and we’ve got to stay together and try to solve things.

“Whether it’s enough time to do what we want to do to try to get in, I’m not concerned about that. I’m concerned about just being pros trying to get some of our dignity back.”

Every Flyers player sat in uniform waiting to answer questions as media entered the visitors’ dressing room after the game, an unusual site in the NHL.

“They need to answer the questions,” Tortorella said.

“I don’t question their effort because it’s been a strong group all year long,” he added. “I’m frustrated for them because this was rock bottom tonight for us and I hate to see us at this time of year be playing this way after all the good minutes we’ve put in throughout the year.”

Flyers captain Sean Couturier returned from missing two games with a shoulder injury.


Flyers: Finish a four-game road trip against the New York Rangers on Thursday.

Canadiens: Start their last road trip of the season against the New York Islanders on Thursday.



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