It what started and finished as an overall hard fought and evenly played matchup throughout, the Philadelphia Flyers would have just enough in the tank to squeak past the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1. In what was a much-needed win for a struggling Flyers team prior to their current three-game winning streak, they now head into the All-Star break feeling good about themselves once again.
As for the Maple Leafs, they could have easily won this game, however, for a young and extremely talented team playing the second game of a back to back on the road, they just didn’t quite have enough in the tank to outlast a desperate Flyers team. With the loss, they now slide out of the third spot in the Atlantic Division and out of the playoffs entirely. However, they still have numerous games in hand on the teams above them so the Maple Leafs have set themselves up to be in a good spot for the last stretch of the season.
For the Flyers, they regain sole possession of the second wildcard and will look to continue their efforts of the last three games when they return to action after the break next Tuesday night. The Flyers now have both goalies healthy and playing well for the first time perhaps all season. This will be a huge strength for them as they had down the stretch fighting for a playoff spot when the schedule begins to condense and fatigue becomes a factor.
The first period had each team feeling one another out to begin tonight’s matchup. Two teams which were playing in their second game of back to back sets took a few minutes for them to get their feet going. When they did it was quite the period of hockey. The Flyers would hand the Maple Leafs a four-minute double-minor power play just seven minutes into the game. The Flyers would impressively kill off the double-minor, leaving the Maple Leafs with very little chances. From the success of the penalty kill the Flyers would harness that momentum leading to All-Star Wayne Simmonds to open up the scoring with a nifty move on a breakaway just past the midway point of the stanza.
Wayne Simmonds. What a guy. pic.twitter.com/liHSa6jrDN
— Sons of Penn (@SonsofPenn) January 27, 2017
The Flyers would take the 1-0 lead thanks to Simmonds into the second period despite the Leafs having the edge in shots 9-6.
The second period would play out much like the first, with both teams trading chances as well as tightening up defensively as the period drug onward. The Maple Leafs would eventually draw the game back even at 1-1 with a goal by impressive rookie forward William Nylander near the end of the period.
William Nylander ties it up 1-1.#TMLtalk pic.twitter.com/iCaKbMjILw
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) January 27, 2017
The period would head into the last stanza knotted up at one, with the Flyers winning the shot advantage in the second 13-10.
The third period is where the Flyers would begin to assert themselves as the more desperate team in need of the two points. The Flyers would outshoot the Leafs to the count of 15-9 and really took it to them all period in carrying the play. Flyers fourth-liner Roman Lyubimov would make sure this game didn’t need overtime in sending the home team into the All-Star break on a three-game winning streak with a wrister in the circle that made its way past Curtis McElhinney.
Roman Lyubimov on the second effort! #FlyersTalk pic.twitter.com/O25h0K1Lj9
— NBC Sports Philadelphia (@NBCSPhilly) January 27, 2017
Lyubimov’s game-winner came with just under three minutes left to go, leaving the Leafs with precious little time left to tie it back up. With a flurry of chances by the Leafs on goalie Michal Neuvirth right up until the very last second, the Flyers would hold on and send the Leafs home empty handed with the 2-1 win.