Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia
Mike Richards (F, PHI) — 1 goal, 2 assists
Scott Hartnell (F, PHI) — 1 goal, 5 shots
Phil Kessel (F, TOR) — 1 goal, 2 shots
The Toronto Maple Leafs have come back to earth.
After starting the season on an impressive four-game win streak, Toronto has now dropped three consecutive contests, the latest a 5-2 beating at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Mike Richards notched his first goal of the year and added two assists on Saturday night as the Flyers ended a three-game winless drought, defeating the Maple Leafs at Wells Fargo Arena.
"When you're in a situation where your team is facing that adversity, you need your leaders and top players to step up and have a good game," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said of his captain.
Brian Boucher, playing in only his third game this season, made 12 saves for his first win. Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, Blair Betts, and Ville Leino also scored for the Flyers.
Philadelphia outshot Toronto 40-14 in the game.
Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 35 shots, losing for the first time in regulation this season. Phil Kessel and Clarke MacArthur, who entered the game with five goals apiece, got the Toronto goals.
The Leafs stuck with the Flyers for two periods, but the buildup of turnovers and sloppy play caught up with them in the third.
"We turned the pucks over in the offensive zone, 2-on-1s, and they buried us in the third period," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "It's inexcusable. Some nights on the road you have to bend not break, and they broke us early in the third."
Richards scored at 17:08 of the first. The Flyers captain intercepted a cross-ice pass, broke into the Leafs' zone and wired a wrist shot that beat Giguere.
"I don't think anyone was too worried about [Richards] getting his points," Briere said. "We all knew it was just a matter of time for Mike Richards to turn it on. Sometimes, you need a lucky bounce. We did a lot of good things, and it was good to see some goals go in for us."
The Kenora, Ont., native continued his success against the blue and white, recording seven goals and four assists over the past 10 games versus Toronto.
The goal energized the home team.
On the following shift, Freddy Sjostrom took a hooking penalty after a hard push by the Philadelphia forwards.
After a point shot by Chris Pronger, Ville Leino jumped on a loose puck and put it into the open net. The blast deflected off Richards, who was parked in front of the Leafs goalie, and trickled into the crease where Leino finished the play.
It was only the third power-play goal for Philadelphia in seven games.
The home side held a 14-4 shot advantage in the first.
Toronto came out after the break with considerable jump. On their first few shifts, the Leafs pushed the Flyers onto their heels, but couldn't solve the Flyers' furious shot blocking and Boucher.
At 4:21 of the second, Kessel was whistled for closing his hand on the puck, prompting the Flyers second power play. But unlike the first attempt, the Leafs didn't allow Philadelphia to sustain pressure in the offensive zone, killing off the penalty.
Toronto, which was short-handed six times in the game, allowed only one power-play goal against.
Glimmer of hope
Gaining momentum from the kill, the Leafs got back on track at 6:35. Kessel sniped his sixth goal of the season not long after leaving the penalty box. The Leafs forward snapped a shot that beat Boucher high blocker side, making it 2-1.
With under three minutes remaining in the frame, Betts restored the two-goal lead. As several Leafs were caught deep in the offensive zone, Darroll Powe and Betts broke away on a 2-on-1. Powe chipped a pass cross-ice to Betts, who one-timed it through Giguere's five-hole for the eventual game-winner.
Late in the second though, the Leafs fought back to make it a one-goal game. MacArthur continued his torrid pace, collecting his sixth goal on the year. The first-year Leaf grabbed a puck off a Flyers' turnover, made a quick deke and beat Boucher.
Philadelphia continued to dominate the shots battle, leading 26-11 after 40 minutes.
Just 65 seconds into the final period, the home side restored the two-goal lead for a third and final time. Richards made a nifty toe-drag and sent a quick pass cross-ice to Hartnell, who left no doubt, powering a one-timer past Giguere.
Briere added a goal midway through the third, his fifth of the year, giving his club a 5-2 lead.
Colby Armstrong was assessed a five-minute major penalty with less than eight minutes remaining, killing any opportunity for a Toronto comeback.
The Maple Leafs didn't register many shots in the game, but it wasn't because they didn't try.
After 22 minutes of play, the Flyers had already recorded 13 blocked shots, finishing the game with 18.
Kimmo Timonen, who seemed to be on the ice for half the game, had five in that span. He finished with eight blocks.
Many of the stops came on penalty kills as the Flyers collapsed into Boucher, leaving little room to get pucks on net.