Leafs Postgame: Leafs lose a close one in Philadelphia

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Photo Credit: Eric Hartline/USA TODAY SPORTS

Curtis McElhinney gets his second start as a Maple Leaf tonight as the Leafs take on the Flyers in Philadelphia. The Flyers looked like a dangerous team early on but have cooled as of late, primarily due to some goaltending issues. The Leafs have been on fire for the last 3 weeks, so this looks like a game the Leafs should win.

1st period

The first period started strong for the Leafs, as it usually does. The Leafs score more goals in the 1st period than any other team in the league. The Leafs defense were defending their own blue line well, forcing turnovers or weak dump-ins on the Flyers’ attempted zone entries. 

The Leafs were generating a ton of pressure and certainly looking charged up. A good strategy, given the potential for fatigue later in the game on a back-to-back. Tyler Bozak drew a 4-minute high sticking penalty from one of the many good young Flyers defensemen, Ivan Provorov, but the Leafs met a strong Flyers PK and were unable to score despite the double major. 


The Hunwick-Polak pairing got caught on when Polak was deep, Hunwick goes to challenge and is unable to play the puck on the line, and the Flyers pick it up for a breakaway that Wayne Simmonds cashes in on. 1-0 Flyers. A second short breakaway, this time against the Marincin-Zaitsev pairing on a great zone entry by the Flyers, is stopped by McElhinney.

The Leafs would continue to look dangerous until the end of the period, but ultimately the Flyers would come out on top 1-0.

2nd period

I’m gonna be brutally honest with everyone, I missed the first 7 minutes of the 2nd period talking to my mom on the phone. I’ll pick it up here at 12:53. 

The Leafs came close to tying it up on a rebound scramble in front of the net, but neither Zaitsev nor Marner could get shots past the shot blocking of the Flyers. 

Later on, Travis Konecny draws a somewhat soft but technically correct interference call on Connor Carrick, sending the Flyers to an ultimately unsuccessful powerplay. McElhinney made some nice saves to keep the deficit at one.

Shortly after the powerplay, James Van Riemsdyk feeds Mitch Marner for a breakaway but Gudas makes a good recovery to drive Marner away from the center of the slot making the break saveable for Michal Neuvirth. 


The Leafs follow up that chance with a good forecheck on the Flyers, causing a turnover which Kadri patiently takes behind the net, and feeds out front. William Nylander displays impressive strength and drive to get a stick on it while surrounded by Flyers, and gets the Leafs their first goal of the game. 1-1. 

The Flyers would get some good looks on McElhinney late in the period but the game would stay tied, 1-1.

3rd period

The Flyers looked like the much stronger team in the 3rd period, at least for the 1st half. It felt like the first 7-8 minutes were all spent in the Leafs’ own zone apart from a few one-and-done chances by the Maple Leafs. Some of those chances were dangerous, but none of the attack seemed sustained.

Nylander though was having another strong period, clearly the best Leaf on the puck tonight. Marner was also creating excellent chances throughout the 3rd. 

Flyers came very close to scoring after a change-up shot from the point floated into the slot, but was shot wide. Just after, the Leafs also came very close as Connor Brown rings one off the post past Neuvirth, but not into the net.


The Flyers continued their third-period dominance late into the period and converted on some pressure from the 4th line causing a scramble in front of the net. Lyubimov fires a shot past McElhinney and it’s 2-1 Flyers.

The Leafs had a very strong attempt at tying the game, and had some very close calls, but were unable to tie it up and the Flyers take this game 2-1.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This game was heavily in favour of the Leafs for the first two periods but was stolen away on a really good 3rd by the Flyers. Not a blown lead, but does follow the Leafs’ pattern of not playing well in the 3rd period. They were on a back-to-back, but so were the Flyers, so it should have been a typical road game for them.

My 3 stars for the night:

  1. Ivan Provorov
  2. Wayne Simmonds
  3. Jake Gardiner

I also have to give a nod to the Leafs’ 4th line tonight, who had more minutes than they’ve had recently, with all of their zone starts in the defensive zone, and ended up leading the Leafs in shot attempts tonight. Easy competition maybe, but impressive nonetheless.

The Leafs play again on Tuesday, January 31st, after the all-star game this weekend.