Toronto, ON -- Break out your list of reasons this consistently frustrating team can't seem to beat an opponent perceived to be of a lesser quality.
On Thursday night, hope you checked "hot goaltender" and "non-playoff team acting as spoiler."
Jonathan Bernier came up with 47
saves and Dion Phaneuf returned from injury to record the deciding
power-play goal early in the third period as Toronto nipped
Philadelphia, 3-2, at Air Canada Centre.
Tyler Bozak and Phil
Kessel each posted a goal and one assist for the Maple Leafs, winners
of two straight after dropping five in a row.
"We'll take the win but there is lots of room for improvement," Phaneuf said.
Claude Giroux and Brayden Schenn scored for the Flyers, who dropped
back-to- back road games to Carolina and Toronto after beating Nashville
and Washington over the weekend at home.
"Some nights you're
going to play great and get not points, and some nights you're going to
play poorly and get points," Schenn said.
Steve Mason suffered
the loss in relief, charged with the final Leafs goal on nine shots.
Rob Zepp worked the first 25-plus minutes in a long-anticipated return to his hometown and gave up two scores on
Toronto began the final stanza with a power play
and cashed in when Phaneuf -- who returned from a 12-game absence due
to a hand injury -- let fly from the right point through a Kessel screen
for a 3-0 game just 1:22 in.
Philly made things interesting by recording a pair of power-play goals in a span of 3:17 late in the contest.
Giroux snapped home a Michael Del Zotto pass from the left circle to
put the visitors on the board at 11:10, then Schenn made it a 3-2 game
at 14:27 after Olli Jokinen was booked for tripping.
Mason was on the bench for the final two minutes, but the hosts carried much of the play for the rest of the contest.
Kessel gave the hosts a lead with 2:25 left in the opening period,
beating Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossman in a foot race and scoring
on a blistering shot from the right circle.
Bozak was left
alone at the Flyers blue line to take a James van Riemsdyk pass,
break in and score inside the near post from the left circle at 5:33.
At that point, Craig Berube made the rash decision to shake up his club. Zepp was pulled and Mason made his first appearance since Feb. 8, fresh off surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.
Notes: Bernier's previous season's best was a 44-save effort in a 5-2 win
against Vancouver on Dec. 6 ... The Flyers' plus-32 differential in
shots (49-17) was the largest in defeat since a 46-14 shot edge in a
4-2 loss to the Islanders on Nov. 25, 1998 ... 49 shots marks the
most in a regulation loss for Philadelphia since a 3-1 setback to
the Penguins on March 26, 1991 ... Prior to the game, the Leafs
announced the acquisition of injured forward Nathan Horton from the
Columbus Blue Jackets for healthy forward David Clarkson.