Scott Hartnell recorded a Gordie Howe hat trick, while Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 24 shots in the Flyers’ 4-3 win over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs tonight. Brayden Schenn scored his sixth goal of the season late in the second period for his first game-winning goal in the NHL, as the Flyers ended their season-high three-game losing streak.
Max Talbot and Claude Giroux were the other two Flyers to score in the second period. Talbot’s redirection gave the Flyers’ a 2-1 lead, while Giroux gave the Flyers’ a 3-2 lead during the later stages of the middle stanza.
Tyler Bozak was the Leafs’ best performer with a two-goal night. His first goal of the game tied the score at one, while his second goal cut Toronto’s deficit to one goal near the end of the second period.
Each team experienced a power play within the game’s first four minutes thanks to a pair of high-sticking penalties to the Schenn brothers.
Schenn high-sticked David Steckel in the corner of the Maple Leafs’ zone 21 seconds into the game.
After the successful penalty kill, Luke Schenn caught Talbot with a high-stick to the face in the same corner as his brother’s infraction. Philly nearly scored the first goal on the power play, with a Kimmo Timonen shot from the point that clanked off the post and a Giroux feed that Wayne Simmonds almost put home in the crease, but they couldn’t find the back of the net.
Minutes after the exchanging of power-play chances, Zac Rinaldo fought Mike Brown. The Leafs’ forward got the better of Rinaldo, as he landed three straight punches to Rinaldo’s face before the pair fell to the ice.
Brown’s decision in the bout didn’t seem to boost the Leafs that much, as the Flyers dictated play following the fight lead to Hartnell’s goal.
After he was dumped by Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf into the end boards, Hartnell skated into the slot, where he batted a bouncing puck down to the ice before he whacked it in for his 26th goal of the season.
Upset by the play prior to his goal, Hartnell said something to Phaneuf before the pair engaged in the game’s second fight.
“I thought I got a cheap shot going into the boards right before I scored,” said Hartnell, “but I’ll take the five minutes and the goal, for sure.”
Although Phaneuf initiated the tension between the two, with a shove from behind on Hartnell with the puck, the Flyers went back on the penalty kill, as Hartnell was hit with an extra slashing minor. The “slash” was when Hartnell tapped the back of Phaneuf’s legs to ask the defenseman to drop the gloves.
Toronto didn’t do much with the man advantage before Giroux drew a hooking minor out of Jake Gardiner in the Leafs’ zone. Philly almost scored before the Maple Leafs gained possession of the puck in the crease, as Andrej Meszaros carried the puck behind the net and nearly put home a wrap-around attempt to further the Flyers’ lead.
Neither team scored on the four-on-four session nor the Flyers’ power play, as Philly finished the first 20 minutes with a lead for the first time since their 4-1 win against the Nashville Predators on February 2nd.
Outshot 16-5 in the first period, the Maple Leafs tied the game at one less than a minute into the middle period.
While Phil Kessel carried the puck into the Flyers’ zone, Joffrey Lupul and Braydon Coburn jostled at the side of the net. Coburn fell to the ice and slightly got in Sergei Bobrovsky’s way, as Bozak gained control of the puck and circled behind the net. Bozak shot the puck from just above the goal line and banked a shot off of Coburn’s skate threw Bob’s five-hole 54 seconds in.
Less than three minutes later, Talbot deflected a Meszaros’ shot from the point between James Reimer’s legs to regain the Flyers’ lead.
Meszaros let go of a shot from the point through traffic, as both Jaromir Jagr and Talbot tried to redirect the puck. Talbot managed to tip the puck downwards and through Reimer’s five-hole before it dribbled over the goal line for his 13th goal of the season.
Philly’s second one-goal lead of the game lasted all of 2:25, as Lupul deposited his 22nd goal of the season while Meszaros was in the box for holding.
The Flyers proceeded to score the next two goals in a 1:14 span later in the period to earn the game’s first two-goal advantage.
Hartnell completed his Gordie Howe hat trick, as he threw a puck to Giroux in the middle of the faceoff circle. Giroux ripped a wrister past Reimer’s shoulder and blocker to pick the top left corner for his 21st goal of the season.
Shortly after Giroux’s tally, Schenn slammed home a rebound for his sixth goal of the season.
Danny Briere released a shot just a few feet above the goal line at the bottom of the faceoff circle to his right that Reimer blocked while he hugged the post. Although he made the save, Reimer left a rebound for Schenn on the other side of the ice and was unable to move across the crease in time to stop the rookie’s shot.
Schenn’s goal came with only 4:53 left in the stanza, but the Flyers failed to exit the period up by two.
Bozak jumped on a loose puck in the slot following a Leafs’ rush and threw a wrister at Bobrovsky. His shot was denied, as was a Schenn backhander lower in the slot, but the pair of shots led to a scramble at the faceoff circle to Bozak’s left. With Bob in a split on the ice, Bozak found the puck in the maze of legs around the net before he roofed a shot over Bob with 1:51 left in the period.
Entering the third period, both goalies had save percentages under .900, as Bobrovsky stopped 14-of-17 and Reimer stopped 26-of-30.
Toronto applied a lot of offensive pressure in the opening part of the third period before Mikhail Grabovski ran into Bobrovsky for a goaltender interference penalty with 10:27 left in the game.
After the Flyers failed to convert on their fourth man advantage of the game, the Leafs continued their offensive surge.
In the midst of the Leafs’ pressure, as well as a long string of time without a whistle, Bozak almost deposited his hat-trick goal to tie the game at 4-4. After a Kessel shot went wide, Bozak controlled the puck just above the goal line and threw the puck towards the open net. Bobrovsky denied Bozak’s shot, as he sprawled across the crease to make an incredible kick-save.
The Flyers’ weren’t out of trouble just yet, as Talbot was called for boarding after he nailed Phaneuf in the Toronto zone.
Fortunately, the Flyers were able to kill off the minor and escaped the Leafs’ barrage in the final minutes to end their three-game skid with a 4-3 win.
The Flyers’ next game is Saturday afternoon, when they look to beat the New York Rangers for the first time all season in a match-up at the Wells Fargo Center.
Notes: The Flyers have won seven of their last eight home games against the Maple Leafs….Their lone loss in that stretch of games came with their 3-2 defeat on March 3, 2011…Hartnell’s goal in the first period ended a 98:41 goalless span for the Flyers. Their last goal was Simmonds’ tally 57 seconds into the third period of their loss to the Rangers on Sunday…The Flyers improved to 16-2-7 in one-goal games this season…Timonen tied a season-high with six shots on net, which he did in the Flyers’ overtime win against the Anaheim Ducks on December 2nd…Ilya Bryzgalov didn’t dress (flu), as Jason Bacashihua was the Flyers’ backup tonight…Bozak’s tw0-goal night was his third of the season and fifth of his career…The Leafs have killed off 28 consecutive power plays against them…The Flyers improved to 2-0-0 against the Maple Leafs and to 9-3-1 against the Northeast Division on the season (BOS 1-1-1, TOR 2-0-0, OTT 2-1-0, BUF 2-0-0, MTL 2-1-0)…The Flyers improved to 31-16-7. They were 36-13-5 after 54 games last season.