The Philadelphia Flyers extended their season-high winning streak to four games tonight with a 5-3 decision over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Sean Couturier and Erik Gustafsson both recorded two-assist nights, while Jay Rosehill was credited with the eventual game-winner against his former squad.
Ilya Bryzgalov may have allowed three goals on 28 shots, but he and the Flyers’ defense did come up big in the third period when the Leafs surged late in the contest. The trio of Nikolai Kulemin, John-Michael Liles, and James van Riemsdyk beat Bryzgalov tonight, while James Reimer suffered the loss for Toronto with 26 saves on 30 shots against.
The Flyers displayed another physical and energetic victory, as Couturier had his best game of the season while spending time on a line with Rosehill and Adam Hall, who both made their debut with Philly.
Flyers’ fans are hoping it isn’t too late for their suddenly hot club to make it to the postseason. Luke Schenn stated the same vision as the Flyers’ faithful.
“It’s obviously really tough to make up points at this stage of the season, but guys are doing a good job of bring it every night,” Schenn said. “I think guys are starting to play with a little more confidence. We’re finding ways to win and hopefully we can continue with that and not get too far ahead of ourselves.”
In a physical and intense first period, the Flyers experienced both a lead and a deficit in the first 20 minutes before they entered the first intermission tied with the Leafs at two.
Simon Gagne single-handedly put the Orange and Black up by one just 1:19 into the road contest.
After he helped Ruslan Fedotenko win an offensive zone faceoff to Gustafsson at the point, Gagne raced to the front of the crease. While providing a screen on Reimer, Gagne tipped Gustafsson’s shot to put it past Toronto’s netminder for his fourth of the season.
Philly’s lead lasted a little over two minutes before Kulemin slammed home his seventh of the year to tie the game at one.
Joffrey Lupul redirected a Dion Phaneuf shot from the point to force Bryzgalov to be slightly out of position. Kulemin jumped on the loose puck in front and quickly put it home for a 1-1 tilt 3:22 into the contest.
Things got violent between the teams a few minutes after Kulemin’s tally. After the older Schenn tripped van Riemsdyk in the Flyers’ zone, Wayne Simmonds and Phaneuf dropped the gloves to fight, but ended up only getting roughing minors due to the fact the refs held them apart. Brayden Schenn and Carl Gunnarsson jostled each other throughout the stoppage of play and Scott Hartnell was involved in the scrum as well.
Just over three minutes after the skirmish, Colton Orr and Rosehill took part in a bout. In addition to Rosehill getting the better of Orr in the fight, the Flyers went on the power play due to the Leafs’ enforcer being called for a roughing minor before the scrap.
Unfortunately for the guests, they couldn’t score on the ensuing power play or their man advantage from the Kulemin boarding minor shortly after Orr left the sin bin to go 0-for-3 on the power play in the opening stanza.
Less than a minute after Kulemin exited the box to make it even strength, Liles let go of a shot from the point that made its way through traffic and past Bryz to make it a one-goal game with 3:14 left in the first period.
Thanks to a unique line combination, Couturier was able to set up Jakub Voracek to tie the game in the final two minutes of the stanza.
With Couturier on the ice with Matt Read and Voracek instead of Claude Giroux, the second-year forward skated to the bottom of the circle to Reimer’s right before he wrapped a pass around a Leafs’ defender to Voracek, who was just above the crease on the opposite side of the slot. Voracek potted his 16th goal of the season off of Couturier’s beautiful pass to make it 2-2 going into the second period.
A goal early and late in the second period let the Flyers enter the third period up by two goals.
The Flyers applied pressure in the opening minute of the second period before the younger Schenn intercepted a Leafs’ outlet pass and let go of a wrister from the slot that squeaked between Reimer’s right hip and armpit for his seventh of 2013.
Although the Maple Leafs applied some offensive pressure for a good chunk of the period, Rosehill put his new team up by two over his former team with a little over four minutes left in the second stanza.
Rosehill and Hall forced a turnover in the Leafs’ zone, which led to a Couturier shot from the point. As both Rosehill and Hall moved to the front of the net to screen Reimer on Couturier’s shot, the attempt ricocheted off of Rosehill’s pants and past Toronto’s goaltender for his first goal as a Flyer.
JvR cut the deficit to one in the third period after the Flyers’ defense gave him a lot of space along the goal line to make a move and roof a shot over Bryz’s glove to make it a one-goal game with 13:46 left in regulation.
The Orange and Black were able to keep the puck out of their net during Toronto’s late-game surge, as the older Schenn notched the empty-netter to finalize the score.launched a shot from the Flyers’ zone to make it 5-3 with just under 17 seconds left in regulation.
The Flyers look to make it five straight wins on Saturday with a meeting at the MTS Centre against the Winnipeg Jets.
Notes: The win extends the Flyers’ winning streak to four games. The last time Philly had a four-game winning streak was from March 1st to March 10th last season when they won five straight contests…Both Rosehill and Hall made their Flyers’ debut in the win. Rosehill had a goal, a hit, a blocked shot, and earned five PIMs. Hall was plus-1 with two hits in 13:09…Steve Mason also suited up for the first time with the Flyers. He wore number 35 and took part in the pre-game skate…Kimmo Timonen left in the third period with an undisclosed injury and didn’t return…With the secondary assist on Voracek’s goal, Read extended his point streak to five games. He has two goals and three helpers during the streak…Tonight’s decision ended the Flyers’ five-game losing streak on the road. Before tonight, the Flyers were 0-4-1 away from the Wells Fargo Center with their last road win being their 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on February 20th…This is the Flyers’ first win of the year against the Maple Leafs and improve to 1-2-0 against Toronto this season. They also improve to 5-5-0 against the Northeast Division this year (MTL 1-1-0, BOS 1-1-0, TOR 1-2-0, OTT 1-0-0, BUF 1-1-0)…The Flyers improved to 17-17-3 on the season. They were 22-11-4 after 37 games last season…The Orange and Black sit 11th in the Eastern Conference, but they are only two points out of eighth place.