Facing a team hungry for a playoff spot, the Flyers lacked urgency late in the third period leading to their 3-2 defeat against the Toronto Maple Leafs this evening.
In a play resulting from hard work in the corner, Darryl Boyce scored the game-winning goal for Toronto with under five minutes to play in regulation.
Kris Versteeg netted a pair of goals in a losing effort for the Flyers, while Mike Richards assisted on both tallies. The loss drops Philly to 40-17-6.
The Flyers were able to strike first after dominating the early play. Chris Pronger — who returned from a week’s absence due to a hand injury — handed the puck to Richards at the top of the circle to James Reimer’s left who then danced around the inside of the same circle. Richards passed it cross ice to an open Versteeg who ripped it home in the opposing circle. Versteeg’s 16th on the season gave Philly the 1-0 lead just before the six-minute mark.
The thrill of taking the early lead lasted all of twenty-one seconds. In an attempt to move the puck out of the defensive zone, Scott Hartnell essentially set up Clarke MacArthur in the slot for a wide open shot. Nikolai Kulemin found a way to touch the puck at the top of the crease and get it past Sergei Bobrovsky to tie the game at one. The score was Kulemin’s 24th goal on the season.
Shortly after the game-tying goal, Andrej Meszaros went to the box for slashing. The Maple Leafs weren’t able to score, but Tyler Bozak found his way into the slot and rang a shot off the inside of the right post. Pressure was constantly applied by Toronto eventually leading to another Meszaros penalty. His cross-checking call occurred three minutes and eight seconds after his previous infraction didn’t result in a Toronto goal.
Not learning from his pairing partner, Sean O’Donnell soon found his way to the sin bin a matter of minutes later for holding. If he hadn’t bailed out his teammates enough, Bobrovsky made several big saves within the two minute span including a Nikolai Kulemin wristshot from the slot.
A penalty-filled first period ended in a 1-1 tie. After a strong opening, the Flyers started to fade behind penalties and lack of chemistry among non-regulars later in the period leading to several opportunites for Toronto to take the lead. Fortunately for Philly, Bob didn’t see another puck pass the goal-line.
To start off the middle period, Keith Aulie decided to introduce himself to Hartnell with a fight. Pushing and shoving in the corner to Reimer’s left led to a fight that saw Hartnell land a punch early, but Aulie finished the fight by knocking his opponent to his knees.
Cycling upon cycling resulted in another Richards to Versteeg connection as well as another one-goal lead for the Flyers early in the second period.
With the benefit of Jody Shelley’s hard work, Richards, who had been slashed on the hand earlier in the play by Mike Komisarek, received a pass in the corner to Reimer’s left from Matt Carle, who was standing at the point. A quick pass cross ice to Versteeg yet again resulted in his 17th goal this year and a 2-1 Flyers lead at the 7:07 mark.
Since the Flyers repeated the Richards to Versteeg idea, they thought why not repeat a "giving up the lead within the same minute" mentality. Shortly after Versteeg’s second goal on the night, the Flyers almost gave up their second lead of the night when Brett Lebda had back-to-back shots on Bob from the slot. Neither of Lebda’s shots went in keeping the Flyers’ lead at one.
Meszaros started feeling funny because he hadn’t been in the penalty box for a while, so he decided to get a roughing minor eight minutes and thirty-one seconds into the period. Phil Kessel just missed tying the game up as he sent a rolling puck high from the doorstep despite staring at a half-open net. The Maple Leafs watched the remaining time on their fifth power-play opportunity run out as they failed to score yet again.
Late in the second period, the Flyers started applying pressure before Kessel eventually went to the box for tripping. Unable to produce a single high-quality chance, Philly’s power play was shortened due to a too many men on the ice call.
Seemingly revived from the Flyers’ too many men on the ice call, Dion Phaneuf found a way to tie the game up before the waning seconds in the second stanza had ticked off the clock.
A shot wide of the net was recovered by Mikhail Grabovski just to the left of the slot and worked to Kulemin who put a shot on Bob from the right hash marks. As the rebound from Kulemin’s shot landed to Bob’s right, Phaneuf put the puck past the goal-line with 10.5 seconds left in the period to tie the game at two. Since the goal was at during a 4-on-4 situation, the Maple Leafs started out the final period on the power play.
Killing off the remainder of the too many men on the ice call, the Flyers found themselves on the advantage due to Bozak clearing the puck over the glass early in the third period to draw a delay-of-game call.
Ironically, the closest chance for a goal came on a short-handed breakaway attempt from Tim Brent. As he went in on Bobrovsky alone, Pronger caught up to the Maple Leaf forcing him off the puck as the play resulted in nothing more than a missed opportunity.
James van Riemsdyk almost gave the Flyers a one-goal lead halfway through the final period as a slapshot from the top of the circle to Reimer’s right popped up in the air and trickled just to the left of the left goal post as the goaltender knelt frozen on the right side of the crease confused as to where the puck had gone.
Midway through the third period, a Ville Leino tripping call gave the Maple Leafs their seventh power-play opportunity of the game.
Nearing the end of the man advantage, Bob gave Flyers’ fans a scare after he bobbled an easy glove stop resulting in Toronto possessing the puck again. Nothing came of the Maple Leaf’s extra opportunity and the game remained tied at two as nine minutes remained in regulation.
Meszaros almost redeemed himself for the multiple penalties he took within the game by nearly scoring a late game-winning goal. Moving from the blueline to the top of the right circle to the slot, Meszaros let a shot rip that Reimer kept from crossing the goal line to keep the game tied.
As the game inched closer and closer to the end, hard work by Toronto led to a garbage goal. Colby Armstrong fought for the puck in the corner eventually moving the puck to Darryl Boyce along the boards behind the left part of the net. Moving the puck to the goal mouth, Boyce was untouched as he slammed the puck past Bobrovsky’s right side to give Toronto a 3-2 lead with 4 1/2 minutes left in regulation.
Despite several minutes of pressure to finish the game, the Flyers couldn’t tie it up resulting in a 3-2 defeat at home to the Maple Leafs. Danny Briere had the home team’s best chance to tie with under 21 seconds to go, as his point-blank wrister ticked off Reimer’s glove, popped in the air, settled on top of the net then fell right back into Reimer’s mitt as bodies moved into the crease.
After making key saves near the end of the first period and all through the second period, Bobrovsky ultimately allowed a rather soft goal to give the Flyers the loss. Bob does deserve credit in helping to keep Toronto from registering a power-play goal despite having eight opportunities, but goals, especially easily avoidable ones, cannot happen in the final minutes of regulation.
The Flyers struggled with Jeff Carter, Darroll Powe, and Daniel Carcillo sitting out with a sudden case of the flu that has made its way through the club. Van Riemsdyk, dealing with a groin injury, along with Nikolay Zherdev and Ben Holmstrom, who was making his NHL debut, stepped in to fill the vacant spots in the lineup. All three lacked any kind of production on the night as they didn’t see a single point.
Versteeg, in his eighth game as a Flyer, finally had a goal with the opposing goalie on the ice. In fact, Versteeg had a pair of goals as he was the only Flyer to post a goal this evening.
Notes: The Leafs snapped a four-game losing streak to the Flyers, and posted their first win in Philadelphia since March 12, 2008…Tonight was Versteeg’s first multi-goal game since November 16, 2010 (2 goals against Nashville) while with Toronto…Kulemin’s goal in the first period was originally awarded to Clarke MacArthur…The Flyers are now 2-1-0 against the Maple Leafs this season and 10-5-0 against the Northeast division (BOS 1-2-0, MTL 3-1-0, BUF 2-0-0, TOR 2-1-0, OTT 2-1-0).