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Third period comeback comes up short as Maple Leafs fall 4-3 to Flyers

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Photo credit:Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
29 days ago
Not even seven days removed from their last meeting in the City of Brotherly Love, the Toronto Maple Leafs made their return to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers for the third and final time this season without another regular in the lineup, as Ilya Lyubushkin (illness) sat this one out.

First period:

Unlike their last meeting, it wasn’t the greatest of starts for Toronto last night. On the first shift, 19 seconds into the game, the Flyers got in on the forecheck, and Owen Tippett ripped his 25th of the season past a slightly screened Ilya Samsonov for the early 1-0 lead. With the Maple Leafs down 1-0 early, the Flyers looked more engaged. They almost made it a 2-0 game minutes after the opening goal, but Toronto kept the puck out.
Just under five minutes into the period, Ryan Reaves and Nic Deslauriers dropped the gloves at center ice for a Tuesday night tilt.
These two heavyweights chatted during warmups, so it wasn’t a shock that they went at it. Reaves landed a couple of shots, but the takedown went to Deslauriers. The Flyers continued to look like the more engaged team. They were first on pucks, won battles, and got the puck to the net, looking to increase their lead on the scoreboard. Toronto found its feet as the period aged and generated a couple of looks, including a hit crossbar from Liljegren later in the frame. But it was evident Philadelphia looked like the better team throughout the 20 minutes, although they didn’t dominate the road team by any means.
Toronto entered the first intermission down 1-0 and outshot 8-7.

Second period:

Similar to the first period, Toronto started on their heels. Philadelphia applied pressure on the Brodie-Rielly pairing in the defensive zone, and the puck found its way to Travis Sanheim, who ripped his ninth of the season cleanly past Samsonov to take a 2-0 lead 56 seconds into the second frame.
Luckily for Toronto, they went to the power play roughly a minute after the Sanheim goal, looking to get on the board with a power-play marker. However, the struggles on the man advantage continued for them, further dropping their power play percentage in March. Although special teams are an essential part of the game, and Toronto has struggled on the power play and penalty kill, their five-on-five play last week in Philadelphia was great. They outscored the Flyers 6-0, but it was clear they weren’t getting the identical chances in this game.
Despite being down 2-0, Toronto strung together many solid shifts in the Flyers’ zone during the middle frame, but it wasn’t good enough. They struggled to get pucks through traffic, and when they did get pucks on the net to Samuel Ersson, he was there to stop them. It also didn’t help them hitting four posts through 40 minutes of play, keeping them off the scoresheet, but that’s hockey. Both teams traded chances for the remainder of the period. But after scoring two goals early in both periods, Philadelphia scored late in the second to take a 3-0 lead into the third frame. Similarly to the first goal, Morgan Frost wristed a shot from a distance, and he beat Samsonov cleanly. The pairing of Rielly-Brodie, which has been underwhelming for an extended period, did not look pretty on any goals they were on the ice for.
Toronto entered the second intermission down 3-0 and outshot 20-18.

Third period:

For the first time in the game, Toronto held Philadelphia without a goal through the first minute of a period. However, Philadelphia did take a hooking penalty 1:01 into the final period, sending Toronto to their second-man advantage of the night. Just 10 seconds into their power play, William Nylander ripped his 37th of the season past Ersson to cut into the Flyers’ lead with a little under 19 minutes left in the game.
After getting within two goals with Nylander’s early tally, Pontus Holmberg was sent to the box minutes later for high-sticking. Luckily, their penalty kill did its job and kept the home team off the scoreboard. Toronto came close to scoring again, but Auston Matthews, on a 2-on-1 with William Nylander, rang a shot off the post for the sixth time. With the penalty killed, both teams returned to five-on-five, and the Maple Leafs continued getting their looks in the Flyers’ zone. John Tavares dropped it to Morgan Rielly, who fed Tyler Bertuzzi at the front of the net for his 14th of the season, and just like that, Toronto was within one goal with a little under 10 minutes to go.
The chances continued for Toronto. They looked hungry as they searched for a tying goal, coming close many times, but Scott Laughton saved a goal for his team after hooking Tavares at the side of the net, sending the road team to their third power play. Toronto couldn’t find the back of the net on the man advantage again, but they came close a couple of times.
Unfortunately, as Laughton jumped out of the penalty box, he was sprung on the rush. With many Maple Leafs players skating back to the defensive zone, sliding to get in the way, Laughton found the back of the net for his 11th of the season, killing any momentum Toronto had generated in the third period. The clock started to wind down, meaning Ilya Samsonov was headed to the bench for the extra attacker. With 2:10 remaining on the clock, John Tavares banged home his 22nd of the season, post and in, to cut the Flyers’ lead to one goal.
The first two periods combined were average at best for Toronto, but it was evident they played their best in the third period, attempting to mount a three-goal comeback on the road. Unfortunately, the clock hit zeros, and the Maple Leafs couldn’t find the tying goal, dropping consecutive games for the first time since mid-January (Detroit and Edmonton).

Who stood out:

It wasn’t a pretty game from Toronto last night. As Sheldon Keefe said postgame, “I didn’t like anybody tonight. Forwards, defence, goaltending, didn’t like anybody.”
It was clear that Toronto did not come to play in the first 40 minutes, which ultimately hurt them, dropping 4-3 to the Flyers. They did, however, put together a solid third period that showed some fight, coming up short, but playing 20 minutes of a 60-minute game won’t win you many games, especially in the playoffs when you’re likely set to face Florida or Boston. Not one player stood out to me in yesterday’s defeat throughout the entirety of the game. Although the big boys led the way in the third period as they tried to mount a three-goal comeback. Tavares, Matthews, Bertuzzi, Nylander, and Rielly combined for nine points, Tavares with a three-point effort.
There weren’t a lot of positives to take from the loss. But an effort like that in the third period won’t go unnoticed. However, a better effort in the first 40 minutes is needed. The power play finally got off the pot, scoring in the third period to break an ugly slump. With the power play goal from Nylander, he set a career-high in points with 88, with 15 games remaining in the season.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game tonight when they close out their back-to-back in Washington against the Capitals. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT.

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