Sparked by John Tavares’ hat trick, Toronto ended a four-game losing streak Wednesday at the expense of the fatigued Philadelphia Flyers.
The Flyers (5-3-2), playing on consecutive nights, were competitive until the final seven-plus minutes, when the Maple Leafs (5-4-2) pulled away from a 3-2 lead.
Final: Maple Leafs 5, Flyers 2.
It was the third of 15 sets of back-to-back games for the Philadelphia Flyers this season. They are 2-0-1 in the front end of those games, and 0-3 on the back end.
The Flyers, who dropped a 1-0 overtime decision to the Rangers Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, actually scored first. That hasn’t happened much .
But the host Maple Leafs took a 2-1 lead with two goals late in the second period.
The Flyers nearly tied it, but Ilya Samsonov denied Tony DeAngelo from the doorstep just seven seconds into the third period. Less than three minutes later, a fortuitous bounce helped the Leafs take a 3-1 lead.
Kevin Hayes blocked a shot, but the puck bounced to an all-alone Zach Aston-Reese, who had an easy goal out front.
After the Flyers got to within 3-2, Tavares gave Toronto a two-goal cushion when he went around Travis Sanheim and scored on his own rebound with 7:18 to go. He later added a power-play goal.
Here are five quick observations:
1. The Flyers’ power play struggled until they got a gift goal.
Philadelphia was 0 for 5 on the power play and was disjointed most of the night before Owen Tippett beat Samsonov with a long-range goal to the short side, getting the Flyers within 3-2 with 12:59 left in regulation. Earlier in the period, Tippett went to the bench after a shot hit him in the head.
In their last three games the Flyers are 2 for 15 with an extra attacker.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) November 3, 2022
2. Felix Sandstrom is still looking for his first NHL win.
Sandstrom fell to 0-7-1 in eight NHL decisions. Like Carter Hart the previous night in New York, he got little support from his teammates.
He is 0-3 this season, with all three losses on the second half of back-to-back games, when his team was fighting fatigue.
Sandstrom stopped 39 of 44 shots and didn’t play badly. His defense did, especially Rasmus Ristolainen (minus-2).
“Felix played great; we left him hung out to dry,” center Scott Laughton said.
3. Once again, the Flyers’ poor goalie was under siege.
The Flyers have been badly outshot in the last four games, as Hart and Sandsrom have faced shooting galleries.
Sandstrom had no chance as Auston Matthews scored on his own power-play rebound with 3:20 left in the first. That tied the game at 1-1. About two minutes later, Tavares scored on a long drive that Sandstrom will want back.(It was unclear if the shot deflected off Travis Konecny.)
In the first period, the Flyers were outshot, 17-6. For the game, the Leafs had a 44–25 shots domination.
The previous night, the Rangers outshot Philly, 36-19, and had a 73-40 advantage in shot attempts.
New coach John Tortorella, whose teams are known for their defense, is going to have to make some adjustments.
4. Early in the game, the Flyers gained momentum from their penalty kill.
Getting strong work from Sanheim, Ivan Provorov, DeAngelo, and Scott Laughton, the Flyers killed off consecutive penalties against Toronto’s vaunted power play. That happened early in the game and seemed to spark Philly, which scored a few minutes later.
5. Kevin Hayes and Travis Konecny had eventful nights.
Hayes dug out the puck in a scrum behind the net, setting Joel Farabee’s goal in motion. Farabee eventually scored on a one-time tracer from the top of the left circle, giving Philly a 1-0 lead with 6:51 left in the first.
It marked just the second time in 10 games that the Flyers had scored the game’s first goal.
Unfortunately for the Flyers, their lead was short-lived as they got burnt on their third penalty of the first period. Toronto finished 2 for 5 on the PP.
Hayes had a busy night. He won 14 of 19 faceoffs (74%), and got into the first fight of his NHL career.
Late in the game, Hayes fought Mark Giordano after the Toronto defenseman tackled Konecny. It was more of a wrestling match, but give Hayes credit for sticking up for his teammate.
As for Konecny, he had two assists, three shots, three hits, two penalties, and was in the middle of a countless number of scrums.
Nick Deslauriers (6 hits), Provorov (5) and Laughton (5) provided the physicality. … Zack MacEwen led the Flyers with four shots. … Sanheim collected his first point of the season, a secondary assist on Farabee’s goal. … Wade Allison fired wide on a second-period, power-play mini-breakaway. … Morgan Frost and Justin Braun were healthy scratches, and Tanner Laczynski and Egor Zamula were inserted into the lineup. Frost’s dad, Andy, was once the long-time public-address announcer for the Leafs.