(Toronto, Ontario, November 6, 2006) – Nik Antropov scored a power play goal in the third period for what turned out to be the game-winner, as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Philadelphia Flyers at the Air Canada Centre on Monday night, 4-1.
With the score knotted at 1-1, Antropov found a loose puck in front of the crease after a floater by Bryan McCabe from the point and flipped it past Antero Niittymaki at 7:18.
Alexei Ponikarovsky found the top corner on a shot from the face off dot with 3:54 remaining to make it 3-1, and an empty-net goal late in the game by Tomas Kaberle capped the scoring.
"I think we played a pretty good game but it was not enough," said Niittymaki.
Trailing 1-0 after the first, the Flyers tied the game while oushooting Toronto 17-3 in one of their strongest periods of the season.
Ben Eager's first goal of the year on a two-on-one rush made it a 1-1 game. Eric Meloche fed Eager alone charging the net, and Eager made no mistake burying the puck past Andrew Raycroft at 2:32.
Meloche picked up his second assist in as many games as a Flyer since being recalled from the Phantoms late last week.
The Flyers failed to take advantage of four ensuing power plays, including a 60-second two-man advantage shortly after Eager's goal. Philadelphia ended the night 0-for-7 with the man advantage while Toronto was 1-for-7.
"We had a lot of chances to go up 2-1, but they got the break," said Peter Forsberg. "I thought we worked harder today, battled, and hung in there, but again I think the power play killed us."
The Flyers kept up pressure early in the third period. Kyle Calder had a great chance on a rebound in front of the net and Sami Kapanen's ripped a slap shot on a two-on-one rush that was gloved by Raycroft.
The Toronto netminder made 40 saves to pick up the victory while Niittymaki stopped 28 of 31 shots faced.
"I did think our team worked tonight, but for whatever reason we're having trouble finding the net," said John Stevens. "That is a good amount of shots against a good hockey team, but at the end of the day we need to find a way to finish and we need to put pucks in the net."
The Maple Leafs tallied the only goal of the first period. On the play, Bates Battaglia skated the puck from behind the net out in front where he turned around and whipped a wrist shot over the shoulder of Niittymaki at 5:25.
Niittymaki was strong throughout the remainder of the period, making 14 saves as Toronto outshot the Flyers 15-7. He made an impressive left pad save on Mats Sundin during a three-on-one rush, stopped Jeff O'Neill while lying across the goal crease and then made a chest save on Antropov's redirection from the slot.
"Niitty played great and kept us in after the first period," said Forsberg.
The game was the first of four between the Flyers and Maple Leafs this season, with the next one not coming until February 15 at the Wachovia Center.
Philadelphia returns home on Thursday to face the New York Islanders for the first of eight meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals (7:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet, 610 WIP).
FLYERS NOTES Defenseman Alexandre Picard was reassigned to the Phantoms on Sunday. … Mike Rathje returned to the lineup after missing the last game with an injury. Jeff Carter, Mike Knuble and Randy Robitaille remained out. … Rathje assisted on Eager's goal for his first point of the season. … NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was in attendance, as were many general managers for league meetings being held in Toronto.