BY JAY BOEHMER, Staff Writer
After that pair of discouraging losses, one 7-4 blowout against the Florida Panthers and a particularly frustrating overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres, the Flyers needed a win to avoid a skid going into this important stretch of games.
This matchup marked the start of a four game home stand for the Flyers. With seemingly every team around them winning and moving up the standings, the Flyers needed a win here against the last place Maple Leafs to start it off strong and hopefully build some momentum going forward.
Last night’s game had all the makings of a tough, physical one. Head coach Peter Laviolette made a change in the lineup, bringing back Darroll Powe, a fast and hard checker, to replace the arguably more skilled Ville Leino.
The rough stuff started off with Colton Orr taking a few shots at Dan Carcillo who, in an inspiring display of discipline, let it go and drew a four minute power play for the Flyers. A string of penalties ensued, and Jeff Carter capitalized off a pretty Chris Pronger pass for his 30th of the season that made it 1-0 Flyers.
Not too far into the second period, Toronto’s Nikolai Kulemin tied the game at one after putting in a rebound off a shot he himself had blocked.
With only a few minutes left in the second stanza, Simon Gagne buried a pass from Dan Carcillo to regain the lead, 2-1. Moments later, Carcillo found himself on a breakaway and put the puck over Giguere’s shoulder, only to realize that offsides had been called on the play.
It didn’t take long for Daniel Briere to add to the scoring and find the back of the net off a Braydon Coburn pass into the slot that made it 3-1 Flyers.
The second and third periods were filled with minor penalties going both ways. The Flyers ended the night 1/6 on the man advantage and also killed off the only three shorthanded situations they faced.
It was the undisciplined first period that put the Leafs behind the eight ball and, being 26th in the league in scoring, it’s a tough hill for them to climb.
This win puts the Flyers in a more comfortable position, three points ahead of the Boston Bruins, each having played 64 games. The Flyers will meet the Bruins, without their star forward Marc Savard (who is out due to a concussion suffered Sunday at the hands of Penguin Matt Cooke), on Thursday. Before they can think about that, however, they must get past the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Dan Carcillo: Showing a side of himself that many ignore, Carcillo kept his hands at his sides and drew the penalties instead of taking them. He also made a nifty pass on the Simon Gagne goal that gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead.
Michael Leighton: Constantly under a barrage of scrutiny, having come in as such a surprise and now being the Flyers go-to goaltender, Leighton continues to perform as a reliable asset to this team. He stopped 27 of 28 shots.
Simon Gagne: Continuing to gain confidence and put more pucks in the net, Gagne was able to score the game winning goal late in the second period for his 11th of the season.