Bernier steals game for Leafs, Flyers can’t capitalize early in 3-1 loss

Image courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers dropped their season opener tonight at the Wells Fargo Center, as the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs came in and stole a 3-1 victory. Jonathan Bernier bailed out the Maple Leafs several times during Toronto’s win, as he kept his team in it for the first two periods before Dave Bolland potted the game-winning goal early in the third period and put home the insurance tally with 22.5 seconds left for a two-goal game. Phil Kessel also scored for the Maple Leafs in the win.

With a pass from Joffrey Lupul behind Steve Mason’s cage, the former Chicago Blackhawk was able to beat Philly’s netminder on the feed from the former Flyer. Although the tally came with 17:30 left in regulation, Philly failed to provide any close scoring chances for the remainder of the tilt.

Brayden Schenn was the only Flyer to beat Bernier on the night, as he planted a power-play goal in the final seconds of the first period off a pass from Vincent Lecavalier. Mark Streit had the secondary assist on Schenn’s tally. It was the only time Philly converted on their seven power-play chances.

“They still generated a lot of chances,” head coach Peter Laviolette said of the Flyers’ power play. “Both units were able to get in and get their scoring opportunities. It would have been nice if one or two more could have fallen in there.”

Bernier was the story of the game, as he posted a 31-save victory in his first game as a Leaf. He stopped 14 of the 15 shots Philly threw at him during the opening frame and denied all nine of the attempts he saw in the middle period, one of which was a penalty shot from Wayne Simmonds in the final seconds. In addition to the penalty shot, Bernier also helped his team kill off six of the seven power plays they handed the Flyers.

For the Orange and Black, it’s a disappointing way to open the season. Facing a team who was playing the second game of a back-to-back, the hosts weren’t able to capitalize on a Toronto team that looked lackadaisical for the majority of the tilt.

Despite leaving the period with a 15-9 shot differential and 5:10 worth of power-play time, the Flyers barely grabbed a 1-0 lead in the final seconds of the period.

After receiving a pass from Streit, Lecavalier moved along the boards to Bernier’s left and worked his way behind the cage before dishing a pass to Brayden Schenn in the slot. The younger Schenn was able to beat Bernier with a little over seven seconds left in the opening frame to give Philadelphia the 1-0 edge.

“Anytime you score a goal and help contribute to the team is obviously a plus and a bonus,” Schenn said. “There was some pretty nifty work by Vinny down low which just goes to show you how good he is.”

The Maple Leafs were able to tie the game in the second, however, after they had nine shots in the second frame to the Flyers’ seven.

With just under three minutes left in the period, a Dion Phaneuf shot from the point was blocked and led to Steve Mason falling to the ice. As the puck bounced to the slot, Kessel was able to possess the rebound and put it past Philly’s goaltender to make it a tied game.

The Orange and Black nearly scored another late-period tally, as Wayne Simmonds was awarded a penalty shot late in the period after he was tripped by Paul Ranger on a breakaway. Simmonds was stoned by Bernier, as he tried to go beat the former Los Angeles King between the legs. The critical save led to a 1-1 tie after 40 minutes of play, where the Flyers played strong enough to enter the final stanza with at least a lead.

After Bolland’s goal, the Flyers had a few chances to even the score, as Colton Orr and Nikolai Kulemin handed Philadelphia a lengthy chance on the man advantage. Unfortunately, the Orange and Black couldn’t beat Bernier for a second time on the evening.

The Flyers will look to rebound on Saturday, as they visit the Bell Centre to take on the Montreal Canadiens.

Notes: The Flyers have now lost two straight season openers and three of their last six…Philly dropped to 1-3-0 against the Leafs over the last two seasons…Philadelphia was 1/7 with the man advantage. Toronto was 1/2 on the power play…Lecavalier had an assist, three shots on net, two hits, and a minus-1 rating in 19:26 TOI in his Flyers’ debut. Streit had an assist, four shots on net, two blocked shots, and was minus-1 in 22:42 TOI in his…Mason’s four-game regular season winning streak was snapped tonight. His last loss came on April 13th of this year, a 1-0 loss to the Buffalo Sabres…James van Riemsdyk had two PIMs, two shots on net, and a hit in 17:37 TOI against his former team. Joffrey Lupul had two assists, five PIMs, three shots on net, three hits, two blocked shots, and a plus-2 rating in 16:07 TOI. The former Flyer also took part in his first fight since February 12th, 2011 when he fought Brayden in the opening frame…Luke Schenn was minus-1 with three shots on net in 14:39 TOI against his former team. Jay Rosehill had two PIMs and a blocked shot in 6:22 TOI…Both Erik Gustafsson and Hal Gill were not dressed tonight for the Flyers…Rinaldo took part in his 99th NHL game tonight. He was minus-1 with a shot on net, three hits, and one blocked shot in 9:33 TOI…Bolland’s two-goal game was his first since he had a pair against the Detroit Red Wings on March 31st this year in a 7-1 Blackhawks’ win…Philly dropped to 0-1-0 against the Atlantic Division and are 0-1-0 against the Eastern Conference.