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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Flyers - 03/09/17

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday at Air Canada Centre:

by Adam Proteau /

Nylander's top-shelf PPG

PHI@TOR: Nylander roofs a short-side wrister for PPG

William Nylander whistles a perfect wrist shot from the circle over the glove of Michal Neuvirth for a power-play goal to tie the game at 1

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1. Flyers strike first, but Leafs tie it as both teams trade power play goals in opening frame. Both the Leafs and Flyers were desperate for a win to stay in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race as they squared off Thursday, but it was Philadelphia that took the first lead of the night when they capitalized on the power play at 6:09 of the first period on winger Wayne Simmonds' 28th goal of the season. Simmonds deflected in a shot from blueliner Shayne Gostisbehere on the play, but the lead only lasted another 7:48, as Toronto tied it on a power play marker from winger William Nylander.

Nylander notched his 18th goal of the year on the play, thanks to a wicked wrist shot from the left hand side that beat Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth at a very difficult angle. The 20-year-old's ability to make incredible shots is now well-established at the NHL level, and Nylander's value with the man advantage - where he's scored half of his goals this year - is undeniable. The goal tied him with former Leafs Dan Daoust, the late Walt Poddubny and Alex Steen for the Leafs' franchise record for power play goals by a rookie.

Video: PHI@TOR: Bozak strips puck, wrists one in off post

2. Bozak puts Toronto ahead after Andersen makes terrific stops at other end. Toronto wasn't at their best defensively through the first half of the game, but the Flyers weren't either, and the Leafs grabbed their first lead of the night on a terrific shot in close from centre Tyler Bozak at 9:28 of the second frame.

However, the Buds wouldn't have been in that position were it not for two excellent saves made by goalie Frederik Andersen on the preceding stretch of action. Andersen turned aside both the first shot of a 2-on-1 Flyers rush and the follow-up rebound, staying square to the puck on both attempts to prevent Philadelphia from regaining the advantage. And on the ensuing play, Bozak wired a sizzling shot past Neuvirth for his 16th goal of the season. Both veterans contributed in their own way, and as a result, the Leafs took a slim lead into the third period.

3. Leafs turn up pressure in third, but Neuvirth stays sharp to keep Toronto's lead at a single goal. The Leafs outshot the Flyers 22-18 through the first 40 minutes of action and had good energy and cohesion to start the third period, nearly adding to their lead on a couple occasions, including on quality shots from wingers Leo Komarov and Connor Brown. Unfortunately for Leafs Nation, Neuvirth was sharp on all of them and kept Toronto's goal total at two for most of the third.

Video: PHI@TOR: Marner fakes, sweeps in wrister for PPG

4. Toronto's penalty killers tighten up, then Marner adds to Leafs' lead. The Flyers had a golden opportunity to tie the game after Buds blueliner Nikita Zaitsev was called for interference against centre Claude Giroux at 9:53 of the third, but Toronto's penalty killers prevented Philadelphia from converting - and when Philly centre Brayden Schenn went to the penalty box for tripping winger Nikita Soshnikov at 13:35, the Leafs' power play proved to be a difference-maker again, as winger Mitch Marner beat Neuvirth with a shot from the faceoff for his 16th of the year.

The Flyers turned up the heat after that and wound up outshooting the Buds 20-12 in the final frame, but Toronto's special teams gave them the edge they needed to pull out the victory.
5. Flyers score second of the game and pressure Leafs late, but Kadri's empty-netter gives Toronto insurance marker. Toronto felt the pressure of the Flyers after Marner's goal and Gostisbehere scored his sixth goal of the year at 17:32 of the third, and although Philadelphia hemmed in the Leafs for a tense stretch after pulling Neuvirth for the extra attacker, Andersen continued his excellent work and wouldn't allow another puck to go by him.

After what felt like forever to Leafs fans, the puck trickled out of Toronto's zone, and centre Nazem Kadri shot it into the empty Flyers net for his 28th of the season and a 4-2 Leafs lead. Toronto went on to close out the game in their favour and put up a two-game win streak before heading out on a three-game road swing that takes them to Carolina Saturday, Florida Tuesday and Tampa Bay Thursday. The game against the Flyers wasn't exactly a must-win, but it was a tense, tough win over a hungry opponent, and Toronto now has a number of positives to build on as they continue striving to secure a post-season berth.

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