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Leafs hang tight in roller-coaster game, beat Flyers 7-6

by Adam Proteau Proteautype / MapleLeafs.com

Wearing throwback St. Pats threads, Toronto launched an offensive attack, coming back and scoring five straight goals to defat Philadelphia in a high-flying 7-6 game.

FLYERS PRODUCE FIRST GOAL, BUT MARLEAU'S POWER PLAY MARKER TIES IT UP HEADING INTO SECOND

Attempting to halt a two-game losing streak, the Maple Leafs began Friday's tilt outshooting the visiting Philadelphia Flyers 14-9 in the first 15 minutes of the opening period. However, it was the Flyers who netted the game's first goal, when winger Jakub Voracek scored his 19th of the season at the 12:22 mark.

The Buds maintained their composure after Voracek's goal, and pressured Philly into giving Toronto its second power play of the period at 17:22. And just 23 seconds into the man advantage, forward William Nylander's shot deflected off of forward Patrick Marleau and past goalie Brian Elliott to tie the game at a goal apiece at 17:45: 

Video: PHI@TOR: Marleau tips in Nylander's shot for PPG

Marleau's goal was his 15th of the season, and the Leafs nearly added the go-ahead goal before the end of the period, but centre Auston Matthews' goal was disallowed after officials determined the net was off its moorings before Matthews batted in a rebound. Nevertheless, Toronto had all the momentum heading into the second period, and it was because of their speed and proper execution of zone exits. If they continued to play that way into the second and third period, they ought to have a better fate than they did in the previous two games. 

LEAFS SURRENDER FOUR GOALS IN SECOND, BUT SCORE THREE - INCLUDING TWO BY MUZZIN - TO TRAIL BY ONLY ONE ENTERING THIRD 

Toronto allowed four goals in the first period of Wednesday's loss to the Blackhawks, and on this night, it was the second period that was the nightmare for head coach Mike Babcock and his charges: the Buds surrendered the first two goals of the second frame to Flyers winger James van Riemsdyk, but winger Mitch Marner beautifully set up winger Zach Hyman for the Leafs' second goal of the night: 

Video: PHI@TOR: Will Arnett calls Hyman's goal from booth

 Hyman's goal - his 17th of the season - cut Philly's lead to 3-2, but the Flyers surged ahead with two goals in a 58-second span just after the midway point of the middle frame. That put the Leafs down 5-2, but Toronto again showed they had the ability to shake off defensive breakdowns and regrettable goals: less than three minutes after the Flyers produced their fifth goal of the game, Buds blueliner Jake Muzzin snapped a shot from inside the circle in Philly's end to the right of Elliott, and the puck went over Elliott's glove and into the net for Muzzin's seventh goal of the season at the 16:08 mark:

 Video: PHI@TOR: Muzzin snaps puck into top corner 

Two minutes and three seconds after he scored to cut Philadelphia's lead to 5-3, Muzzin generated his second goal of the game to pull the Leafs within one: 

Video: PHI@TOR: Muzzin rips shot through defender's legs

 Muzzin's pair of goals gave Leafs Nation hope for the third period - hope that the Buds would tighten up defensively, and that their late-second-period surge could continue and bring them even with Philadelphia.

LEAFS TURN UP HEAT ON FLYERS, SCORE GAME-TYING MARKER COURTESY OF MARINCIN 

After outshooting Philadelphia 16-9 in the second, the Leafs outshot the visitors 8-1 to begin the third, and they were rewarded for it at the 2:55 mark when D-man Martin Marincin's shot from the point went through traffic and past Elliott for Marincin's first goal of the year: 

Video: PHI@TOR: Marincin buries long shot through traffic

The Scotiabank Arena crowd erupted in joy when Marincin tied the game - and when Toronto clawed its way back from a significant deficit to clean the slate for the final half of the third. 

LEAFS TAKE OVER IN THIRD, TAKE LEAD AND THEN EXTEND IT VIA PAIR OF GOALS FROM MATTHEWS TO SECURE WIN

Once Toronto tied it, their confidence soared, and they once again outshot the Flyers 16-9 in the period (to finish with 51 shots on net and 98 shots on net in the past two games). The hockey gods rewarded their push, and at the 15:00 mark, Matthews netted his 33rd goal of the year to give the Leafs their first lead of the night:

Video: PHI@TOR: Matthews goes five-hole with wrist shot 

Two minutes and 21 seconds later, Matthews scored again for goal No. 34, and a 7-5 Toronto lead: 

Video: PHI@TOR: Matthews bangs home rebound for second goal 

The Flyers made it close - van Riemsdyk netted his third goal of the game with 1:14 left in regulation time - but the Leafs hung on to win by a goal and snap their losing streak. They immediately head to Ottawa to take on the Senators Saturday, and though their defense needs to be far better, the Leafs' offence is something to marvel at. And Friday's game was a memorable example of that fact.

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