Playing from behind is never easy, but the Flyers aren't happy unless they're down a couple of goals early on. On the other side, the Leafs aren't happy with a lead. Seems like the perfect match-up.
Prior to tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs had given up 73 third period goals. They gave up two, but alas, it wasn't enough.
Shots and advantages were pretty well matched early, but the difference was traffic in front of the net. The Leafs were able to draw the Flyers in front, cloud Mason's vision, and put the puck in the net twice. The Flyers weren't able to do that in the first and for the majority of the second. Once they were able to sustain pressure and get bodies in front of the net, it was only a matter of time. After a defensive zone faceoff, the Flyers moved up the ice with Kimmo Timonen trailing. He waited for the pass and then waited for his shot and put it past Bernier easily. It was a great play, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
The third period was a battle, but about halfway through, hard work paid off. Jake Voracek got the puck along the boards--suck it Phaneuf. Voracek proceeded to throw it in front, where Timonen roofed a backhander over Bernier's shoulder. It looked like the game would stay tied, but a weird goal for the Leafs made it 3-2 late. A shot that could have gotten Kimmo Timonen his first career hat trick rang off the post with just a few minutes left in the third. Seemed like the end of the game.
Not so fast, said Braydon Coburn probably. He let one go from the point and it beat Bernier and honestly, how could you be shocked anymore? The Flyers just know how to dominate third periods. It's stupid and it's fun.
Joffrey Lupul put home the overtime winner, a wrister that was sort of a letdown after the excitement of the third period. Lots of puck-watching, letting off the gas. You know, the usual issues.
- The defense looked slower than usual in the first period. I specifically noticed Grossmann and MacDonald getting burned by Leafs who were skating much better, but I'm sure there were numerous other occasions with numerous other skaters. It was less noticeable later in the game because...well, Steve Mason was erasing mistakes.
- Mason started off shaky. Defensive cataclysms aside, it looked like he was uncomfortable in the net, like he wasn't tracking the puck normally. He needed to step his game up, and thank the lord, he did. He made some absolutely unbelievable stops. He got gorgeous saves on Kessel, on van Riemsdyk...you name them, he stopped them. He looked better and better as the game went on. Thanks for that, Mason.
- Just when you think Kimmo's getting old, he goes and plays a game something like this. He's indestructible, enough said.
- Michael Raffl looked solid with the third line. The fourth line looked gross without him and you'd feel better with a fourth line that can actually chip in offensively, but it's good that he got the chance. He's been doing all the right things.
- Finally, I hate to be that guy, but the refs butchered this game. It's a slippery slope, really: they make one weak call, they make another weak call to make up for it, and it goes on and on and on. No one likes it. Plus, a neutral zone ref waved off a Flyers goal. It made no sense and the game ended up being dictated by one goal, so it's not like it wasn't important. Maybe I'm bitter. Okay, I'm a lot bitter. Whatever.
Regardless, the Flyers really could have won this one, and yeah, the beginning and the end were super disappointing. They won't be able to come back from every deficit, obviously, but the game was in their hands and poor defense let it go. It's ironic considering that all three of the Flyers goals came from defensemen.
Still, the Flyers managed to get a point out of tonight's contest, keeping them in second place, one point ahead of the Rangers. Would have been nice to get the other, but beggers can't be choosers.
The guys are back at it on Tuesday, the 11th. They'll be facing the Devils. Should be a good one.