Saturday, December 20, 2014

Flyers post season-high in offense, shock Leafs in Toronto


Toronto, ON -- Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek have done more than most of their teammates combined to keep the club relatively close to the playoff picture in the first one-third of the season. 

They were clearly going to be counted on to carry the team on their backs facing an eight-game road trip without the services of their starting goaltender.

On Saturday night, in front of an international audience, the twosome combined for eight points, and the Philadelphia Flyers stormed back from an early two-goal deficit to post a 7-4 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre.

Giroux accounted for two goals and two assists, while Voracek notched four primary helpers. Michael Raffl and Sean Couturier each gave a goal and an assist for the Orange and Black, who snapped a two-game losing streak to open their trip. 

Philly heads to Winnipeg on Sunday to complete their seventh set of back-to-back games, having upped their overall record in such contests to 2-10-1. Craig Berube's wheezing charges have somehow managed to record points in seven of their last eight (4-1-3).

Though shaky in the early going, Ray Emery allowed four goals on 25 shots in the victory, his second straight. He was pressed into duty after Steve Mason's apparent back injury suffered in Friday's practice left him away from action for at least the first two games of the trip.

Joffrey Lupul posted a goal and an assist while James van Riemsdyk, Peter Holland and David Clarkson all scored for the Maple Leafs, who have dropped their past two because they couldn't hold onto leads of 2-0 and 3-2 in a wild opening period. 

Jonathan Bernier allowed all seven goals on 41 shots, while James Reimer played the final 10 1/2 minutes and stopped the lone shot he faced.

The Maple Leafs got off to a hot start, scoring the first two goals and getting things started at 4:51 on Lupul's one-timer off a backhand pass from Morgan Rielly. Less than a minute later, van Riemsdyk scored on the power play when he redirected a slap-pass from Cody Franson for his 14th goal of the season.

Usually out of things by this point, the visitors somehow managed to snap back to attention and tied the game with a quick pair of their own, as R.J. Umberger chipped in a Couturier rebound at 11:18, and it was Couturier three minutes later as his one-timer off a Matt Read feed found the back of the net.

It took just 15 seconds for Toronto to get the lead back, as Clarkson's snap shot from the left circle went over the glove of Emery. Giroux responded by scoring his first of the game just 11 seconds after that on a give-and-go with Voracek. 

The three scores in a span of 26 seconds by both teams set a new Flyers franchise mark for combined goals by two teams, according to Elias. 

At 3:52 of the second, the Flyers went on top for good on a goal which Bernier simply needed to stop with relative ease. Nicklas Grossman sent a hard shot from the left point that kicked off the end boards, hit off the back of Bernier's right leg and slid in.

The Flyers made it a 5-3 game with 3:57 to play in the second as the captain scored a skilled players' goal. Giroux took a pass at the low left side from Voracek, held the puck as he skated towards the goal line, and snapped the puck under the crossbar from a sharp angle for his 10th of the season.

Scott Laughton scored off a wrister from the left circle thanks to a nice set- up by Voracek at 5:47 of the third, and it was Raffl near the midway mark of the period finishing off a 2-on-1 break for his ninth of the season. Wayne Simmonds did the set up, carrying up the right wing and waiting until Dion Phaneuf unnecessarily dove before dishing back into the slot for the easy marker.

Holland's goal with just over six minutes to play accounted for the final score.

Notes: The Flyers last hit seven goals on the road against the Leafs in a 7-1 decision on March 29, 2012, and last posted a 7-4 score in Toronto on November 4, 1989 ... Toronto opens a seven-game road trip in Chicago on Sunday ... It was a season-high in goals scored for the Flyers, whose previous best occurred in a 6-5 overtime road victory against the Stars on Oct. 18 ... Toronto was 1-for-4 on the power play, while Philadelphia failed on all three of its chances ... Read finished with two assists, as did Toronto's Phil Kessel ... Phaneuf and Nazem Kadri finished with game-worst minus-4 ratings ... Giroux also won 17 of his 22 faceoffs, and Leafs forward Tyler Bozak ended up winning 12-of-20 draws ... Rob Zepp was recalled from Lehigh Valley of the AHL to serve as Emery's backup, and who may see his first NHL action against the Jets in the second half of a back-to-back. 
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