The Philadelphia Flyers had quietly been on a roll at the Wells Fargo Center, going 4-0-1 in their last five homes games entering Saturday night.
But their point streak evaporated in a four-goal, third-period eruption by the explosive Toronto Maple Leafs.
Maple Leafs 6, Flyers 3.
The Leafs (44-19-5) have won four in a row, while the Flyers (21-36-11) have dropped four straight.
“We bent and we broke a little bit in the third period,” said interim coach Mike Yeo after the Leafs pulled away from a 2-2 tie by outscoring the Flyers, 4-1, over the final 20 minutes. “We made more mistakes in the third period than they did, and obviously they have a lot of skill and they capitalized on those.”
“Too many turnovers in the third that resulted in our net,” center Kevin Hayes said.
Here are five observations:
1. No one covered Auston Matthews on the game-turning sequence.
Matthews is the NHL’s leading goal scorer, so it’s not advisable to leave him unguarded.
But that’s what happened as Mitch Marner circled behind the net at fed Matthews for a one-timer from the left circle with 12:19 left in regulation to put the Leas ahead to stay at 3-2. It was his 51st goal.
About four minutes later, Pierre Engvall’s shorthanded goal made it 4-2.
2. Kevin Hayes and Ivan Provorov were outstanding.
In the second period, both had goals and assists as they set up each other’s tallies.
Hayes (five shots) now has 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in the 14 games he has played since returning from a groin injury.
Provorov (two goals, assist), who seems to be comfortable with new defensive partner Cam York, has been more offensive in recent games. His goal was his first in the last 26 games, a tally against Dallas on Jan. 24. He later tried to score on a wraparound.
“He thinks he’s Bobby Orr,” radio broadcaster Tim Saunders cracked on the air. “He looks like he has the weight of the world off his shoulders.”
Provorov, who put six of his nine shot attempts on goal, later added another goal when his point shot deflected off a Leafs player in front of the net to cut the deficit to 4-3 with 7:37 remaining in regulation. But Morgan Rielly countered for Toronto 84 seconds later to make it 5-3, and John Tavares padded the lead to 6-3 with 4:11 left.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) April 3, 2022
3. Carter Hart was sharp until a disastrous 69-second span.
The 23-year-old Philadelphia Flyers goalie had an undisclosed nagging injury and missed the previous two games, but he was very good in the first half of the Saturday’s matchup — his first appearance since a 6-3 loss in Colorado on March 25.
Ah, but he allowed inartistic goals to old pal Wayne Simmonds and Timothy Liljegren in the second period, turning a 1-0 lead into a 2-1 deficit.
Simmonds, on a breakaway, lost control of the puck but it knuckled past Hart. Sixty-nine seconds later, Lilegren’s point drive bounced off the end boards and off Hart’s skate and into the net on the short side.
For Simmonds, it was his first goal in 33 games and his fifth of the season.
Earlier, Hart robbed Ilya Mikheyev on a shorthanded, point-blank chance with 7:19 left in the first, and also made a great stop on William Nylander on the doorstep earlier in the period.
But he will want to forget the last two periods.
“I don’t think we lost this game because of Carter tonight,” said Yeo, pointing to defensive mistakes and “opportunities we fed them.”
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) April 3, 2022
4. Ronnie Attard started strong, finished poorly in his NHL debut.
Attard, a 6-4, 210-pound defenseman with a powerful right-hand shot, looked solid in the first two periods but struggled in the final 20 minutes. He was paired with Nick Seeler until Seeler was injured early in the third period.
The former Western Michigan standout had four shot attempts, two hits, a blocked shot and a minus-4 rating. He played 15:53 and was used on the top power-play unit.
Overall, Yeo was pleased with Attard, except for a few third-period instances when he “was pressing the issue a little bit and got caught on the wrong side of things. But I liked his assertiveness. I liked his range, his stick. He looks like he’s willing to shoot the puck.”
Attard said he “felt good for the first two periods. That’s a good hockey team we just played. If you’re lackadaisical for a second or don’t have attention to detail, they’re going to put the puck in the back of the net, and I learned that tonight.”
“It’s tough to come in playing against a team with all that skill,” Hayes said. “I thought he handled himself well.”
Fans boo, of course. https://t.co/gZPDT7rAwO
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) April 2, 2022
5. The Flyers were the better team in the first period.
Sparked by center Morgan Frost, they broke out of their zone impressively and had several chances off the rush in a scoreless opening period, when they outshot the Leafs, 11-6.
Holding the Leafs to six shots was impressive when you consider Toronto is the third-highest scoring tam in the league and that it had averaged six goals in each of its previous three games — wins over Florida, Boston, and Winnipeg.
But after the sluggish start, Toronto regrouped and scored six goals over the last 30 minutes.
Keith Yandle was scratched from a regular-season game for the first time since 2009. He had played in an NHL record 989 straight games …. Ex-Flyer Simmonds pounded Zack MacEwen in a fight with 2:44 to go. … The Leafs now have an NHL-leading 12 shorthanded goals. … Nate Thompson, playing his first game since Nov. 26 because of shoulder surgery, played left wing on the fourth line and was used on the penalty kill. … Jack Campbell made a diving glove save to deny Frost with 18:13 remaining in the first, his best stop of the night. … The Flyers won just 39% of the faceoffs. … Travis Konecny wasn’t expected to play because of an illness, but he made a rapid recovery and was in the lineup. Hayden Hodgson was a healthy scratch. … The Flyers will face the Rangers and ex-teammate Justin Braun at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night. Goalie Martin Jones will get the call for the Flyers.