Flyers Start Strong, Hold on for 4-3 win Over Maple Leafs

Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers claimed to be satisfied with their play after Tuesday’s 1-0 shootout loss to the New York Islanders. Following the game, the sentiment was clear: that level of effort will win a lot of games.

At the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night, the Flyers proved their point.

Again outshooting and outskating their opponent, tonight the result proved positive, as the Flyers came away with a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Rather than starting the game deflated after a frustrating loss, the Flyers were an energized squad in the first period, outshooting the Maple Leafs 16-5.

“I thought we had a real strong first period,” Laviolette said following the game.

Scott Hartnell quelled all worries that tonight would be a repeat of Tuesday’s goal-less shot barrage, batting a puck out of mid-air past a startled James Reimer for his team-leading 26th goal of the season. But Hartnell wasn’t satisfied with simply adding another tally to his goal totals. Immediately following the goal horn, Hartnell dropped the gloves with Toronto defenseman Dion Phaneuf.

“We were battling I think for the first couple shifts and I kind of was going behind the net one time and I don’t know if he pushed me or I caught an edge, I don’t know what happened,” Hartnell said. “I went off the boards and my neck was in kind of an awkward position and I thought it was somewhat of a cheap play. Just pretty standard, someone does something to you cheap, slashes, cheap plays like that you have to stand up for yourself, and he did.”

Hartnell later added an assist to complete the Gordie Howe hat trick.

“It’s pretty cool. It doesn’t show up in the stats or anything like that. It was what counts is we got two points tonight.”

The Flyers seemingly had all the momentum at the conclusion of the opening stanza. But unlike the first period, the second would prove a back-and-forth struggle.

Toronto quickly tied the score only 54 seconds into the period, as Tyler Bozak deflected a shot off Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn and past goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

The Flyers quickly answered, as Maxime Talbot deflected a Andrej Meszaros point shot past Toronto goaltender James Reimer to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead. It was Talbot’s 13th goal of the season.

Meszaros finished with four hits and was a +3 in the game, an effort that did not go unnoticed by coach Peter Laviolette.

“I thought [Meszaros] was really strong. Especially early on in the game, I thought he had a presence offensively, he seemed to be up on the rush and trying to generate offense.”

Former Flyer Joffrey Lupul made sure the lead was short-lived, gobbling up a rebound from a Phaneuf point shot and beating Bobrovsky for a power play goal and his 22nd of the season. The 2-2 tie would stand until the 13:53 mark of the second period, when Claude Giroux took a Scott Hartnell pass and fired a wrist shot past Reimer to give the Flyers a 3-2 lead.

For Giroux, who missed numerous wide-open nets on Tuesday, the goal was refreshing, to say the least.

“I think when you score a goal, it’s a great sign. You’re helping your team win. Great pass by Scotty, I was just trying to put it on net.”

46 seconds later, the Flyers would tack on another, this time from Brayden Schenn, who retrieved a Daniel Briere rebound and beat Reimer for his sixth goal of the season, and fourth in his last seven games. Maxime Talbot raved about the rookie’s progression throughout the season.

“It’s been huge for our team. For him, I think he had a tough stretch starting the year with injuries and stuff like that. But the last 10 games, he has been solid. He’s a great young player.”

Again, the Flyers appeared to be in control. But Tyler Bozak would strike for second time at the close of the second, this time roofing a shot past Bobrovsky from in close to cut the Flyers’ lead to one goal, setting up a tense third period.

Bobrovsky, however, would prove up to the task, stopping all ten Toronto shots in the final stanza. In his first action since allowing six goals on 23 shots against the Devils on February 4th, Bobrovsky showed no signs of ill-effect from the disappointing performance.

“I don’t have the right to let in any of them the last game,” Bobrovsky stated. “It’s really great that I had a chance to redeem myself and play better today.””

The victory was especially important for the Flyers, who will now prepare for perhaps their most difficult weekend of the season, back-to-back games against the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers and Western Conference-leading Detroit Red Wings.

“Just looking into this weekend, you can’t look past these two games,” said Brayden Schenn. “ It’s going to be a grind out there, two good hockey teams.  We’re going to need four points over the weekend.”

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