Monday, February 25, 2013

Leafs beat inconsistent Flyers

Special to the Phanatic

Philadelphia, PA --  Mikhail Grabovski scored the eventual deciding goal in the third period as the Toronto Maple Leafs posted a 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center in James van Riemsdyk's first game back in the city since an off-season trade.

"We were all in. There were no passengers tonight. Everybody did what they needed to do to be a successful team," the former second-overall pick in the 2007 draft admitted. "I didn't really hear anything it was tough to say. There's a lot of passionate fans here, it's crazy to say you didn't appreciate all that stuff (noise in his direction as an opposing player). 

Phil Kessel and Nikolai Kulemin also lit the lamp for Toronto, with Jay McClement adding an empty-net tally to help back a 23-save effort from Ben Scrivens.

First Stare of the week Jakub Voracek continued his recent hot streak by recording a goal and an assist, while Scott Hartnell netted his first marker of the season in the loss. Claude Giroux assisted on both Flyers' scores.

Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 18-of-21 shots in Philadelphia's second defeat at the hands of the Leafs this month, with Toronto registering a 5-2 home triumph in a Feb. 11 meeting.

The Orange and Black (9-11-1) lost their sixth straight game this year when attempting to reach the .500 mark, and alternate captain Kimmo Timonen recognized that frustrating inconsistency.

 “We can talk in the room as much as we want, once we go on the ice, everyone has to show up and [have a sense of urgency]. It comes from the 20 guys in this room to do it on the ice, not here [in the locker room]. “We can talk about the urgency, whatever great word you want to make up but it has to happen there [on the ice]."

Scrivens was sharp right from the start, coming up with seven saves over the game's first six minutes and later stoning Wayne Simmonds on a breakaway attempt coming out of the penalty box near the midway mark of the opening period. The rookie would get some breathing room near the end of the frame courtesy of Kessel, who blew past Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen after collecting a no-look pass from Tyler Bozak off the right boards and firing the puck through Bryzgalov's legs 2:40 prior to the first intermission.

Kulemin made it a 2-0 score with just under five minutes remaining in the second period. With the Flyers caught in a line change, the Russian found the back of the net on a backhander off Nazem Kadri's cross-ice feed for his first goal in 13 games.

Philadelphia answered less than three minutes after, however. Voracek skated up the right wing before hitting Hartnell for a wrister that the veteran wing lifted over Scrivens' shoulder to cut Toronto's lead in half.

Giroux nearly tied it just over 7 1/2 minutes into the final session with a backhander that bounced off the top of the crossbar, but it was the Maple Leafs that cashed in on the resulting rush. Bryzgalov turned aside Clarke MacArthur's initial attempt, but Grabovski put home the rebound for a 3-1 advantage with 12:08 to play.

"You always get a question about 'how did this one play kick-start the rest of the game'," Scrivens said. "Yo have to be ready from the start. If that opportunity to make that save doesn't happen, you still need to be ready. You have to play each shot honestly, if you miss one, you have another one coming in your direction."

Philadelphia capitalized on a power-play chance shortly afterward to pull back within one. With ex-Flyer van Riemsdyk in the box for consecutive minors, Voracek -- named the NHL's First Star of the Week on Monday -- ripped a shot that beat a screened Scrivens stick-side with 8:18 remaining.

"I wasn't really thinking about all that while I was in the box. Gotta give credit to the boys for bailing me out there," van Riemsdyk said when asked how tough it was to take those penalties at a crucial time in front of friends and family.

Scrivens withstood a frantic push from Philadelphia in the final stages, however, before McClement sealed the win by flicking the puck into the vacated net with just 13 seconds on the clock.

"It’s certainly not where we want to be,” said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette. “It seemed we were off to the first part of the first period the way we wanted to, we couldn’t score, they came back and caught a few of their chances so we’ve got to have the lead and move forward from there. But there isn’t anything you can do about it, you’ve got to continue to fight for it, work for it, move forward and look for a win."

Notes: Van Riemsdyk made his first appearance at the Wells Fargo Center in a visiting uniform. The former No. 2 overall pick spent his first three seasons with the Flyers before being traded to Toronto in June for defenseman Luke Schenn ... Kadri and Carl Gunnarsson each had two assists for the Maple Leafs ... Voracek was named the NHL's First Star for games played from Feb. 18-24 after amassing a league-best 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) over a four-outing stretch ... Giroux now has three goals and seven assists over a five-game point streak ... The Flyers fell to 1-11-0 this season when trailing or tied after two periods, with Saturday's 5-3 decision over Winnipeg the lone positive result ... Philadelphia defenseman Bruno Gervais skated in his 400th career NHL game...Hall of Famers Bernie Parent and Wayne Gretzky took in the contest in a suite...Blues GM Doug Armstrong was in attendance for the second straight game.

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