The Flyers were just 7.5 seconds away from extending its season-best 6-game points streak against the struggling Maple Leafs. Toronto’s Matt Hunwick had other ideas and blasted a shot past Steve Mason’s blocker in the final seconds to give his team the much-needed victory.
During the first 11 minutes of the 1st period, Philadelphia outshot Toronto 11-1 and broke the game’s scoring open with a beautiful Matt Read power-play goal off an even more beautiful pass by defenseman Evgeny Medvedev from the top of the blue line. Just over 2 minutes later, Roman Polak tied the game up at 1s. This was Polak’s first goal in over a year for Toronto.
After the Polak goal, the momentum shifted in Toronto’s favor. Former Flyer Joffrey Lupul scored his 10th goal of the season towards the end of the 2nd period on a play where he beat Steve Mason to the puck. Mason couldn’t get his glove on the puck fast enough which resulted in the Maple Leaf’s 2-1 lead heading into the 3rd period.
With 7 minutes left to play in regulation, Shayne Gostisbehere, who is quickly making a name for himself throughout the league, stole the puck from the Flyers’ zone and skated coast to coast scoring a clutch game-tying goal that energized the team down the stretch. The Hunwick eventual game-winner was a hard pill to swallow as Philadelphia was just getting ready for its 3rd overtime session in as many games. Losing in the final moments to one of the league’s worst teams doesn’t make things any better.
After starting the game with an 11-1 shots on goal advantage, the Flyers lost the final shots total 35-33 and were outplayed for much of the 2nd period and parts of the 3rd. Flyers’ goalie Steve Mason spoke after the game about his team’s effort:
“Yeah, it wasn’t a good game,” Mason said. “It would’ve been great to get into overtime but at the end of the game there, we got what we deserved for the effort that we had tonight.”
Flyers’ coach Dave Hakstol was asked about his team’s early 1st period shots outburst and why the team faded as the game went on:
“I mean the shot clock was what it was but I just didn’t think in little areas we were very sharp right from the start of the night,” Hakstol said. “You’re going to have those nights, we obviously have to and we will deal with this performance tonight but were going to have to do that and were going to have to do it quickly. We’re going to have to put it behind us and move forward.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs, always considered one of the league’s better franchises, have had a tough year thus far and currently sit in 8th place in the Atlantic Division.
Flyers’ rising star, Shayne Gostisbehere, was asked if going into a game against a statistically inferior opponent weighs at all on the team:
“No,” Gostisbehere flat out said. “You can’t think like that. It’s not something that we want in our minds at all. We want to take every team seriously no matter who they are and put our best effort forward.”
Ghost scored his 8th goal of the season tonight, which leads all rookie defensemen and ranks 11th among all rookies overall. He has played at least 18 fewer games than everyone ahead of him on that list.
The Flyers and its fans have already looked passed tonight’s disappointing loss and await bitter rival Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night. This game certainly has been circled on the team’s calendar and is arguably the most anticipated game of the year to this point. Both teams are only separated by 1 point in the Metropolitan Division, which will only add to the excitement. The Flyers head to Western Pennsylvania for a Thursday night showdown against Sidney Crosby and company.
This will be the first of four meetings between these teams this season. Both teams will deny it, but a little extra something always goes into these games. That can’t be said for other teams and it’s great for the sport of hockey and its loyal fans. Don’t forget to tune in to see the battle of Pennsylvania this Thursday night. The puck drops at 7 pm.