For the Flyers, this was just another game to pad their lead in the Eastern Conference standings. For the Leafs, with Carolina and Buffalo playing each other to overtime in Raleigh, this was another in a long string of must-win games as the young club looks to end their playoff drought. Both Sergei Bobrovsky and James Reimer turned in very good efforts, and a matchup that, on paper, looked like a bit of a mismatch, ended up being a very entertaining hockey game.
Former Leaf Kris Versteeg did his best to down the team that didn’t see him as a “top-six forward,” netting both Flyers’ goals, one in both first and second periods. Fortunately for the Leafs, Reimer closed the door the rest of the way, finishing with 28 saves and pulling his GAA down to 2.28, and raising his save percentage to .929, good for 2nd in the league. His biggest save came late in the 3rd period, when Keith Aulie fanned on a clearing attempt and set up a golden scoring opportunity that Reimer knocked into the air with his glove before catching the puck as it bounced off the top of the net.
The Leafs got off to a slow start, and when Versteeg scored less than six minutes in, it looked like the Leafs could be in for a long night. Thankfully, Clarke MacArthur capitalized on a Philly giveaway just 21 seconds later, launching a bomb from the slot that was apparently tipped in by Nikolai Kulemin. Had MacArthur been credited with the goal, as he originally was, it would have been his 20th goal of the year as well as his 50th point.
Philly took another lead in the 2nd on Versteeg’s 2nd goal of the night, but Dion Phaneuf crashed the net with just 10 seconds left in the frame. The Leafs had played the second with quite a bit of jump after Aulie tangled with Scott Hartnell and, after Hartnell got in a few early blows, the lanky defender drilled the ginger winger and sent him crashing to the ice. (Stick-tap to Nick Kypreos for the nickname of the season – Muhammad Aulie).
After a wild 3rd, the Leafs got the winning goal from the most unlikely of sources when Darryl Boyce stuffed a wraparound try through Bobrovsky. Of course, if the Leafs had managed to score on any of their seven powerplays, Boyce’s heroics might not have necessary. The Leafs’ puck movement was much better on the PP tonight, and they did generate more than a few quality scoring chances, but failed to produce any goals. It didn’t cost them tonight, but a functional powerplay might be a valuable asset in a playoff push.
If you weren’t excited enough, here’s a video to help you sleep: