A major penalty by Mike Komisarek
helped put the Toronto Maple Leafs
in a hole they couldn't get out of.
Komisarek was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for shoving Philadelphia's Daniel Carcillo into the boards from behind 3:45 into the game. The Flyers got a power-play goal by Andrej Meszaros 70 seconds later and never looked back on the way to a 3-2 win at the Air Canada Centre on Thursday night,
The Leafs had no complaints with the call from referees Mike Leggo and Brian Pochmara.
"It's a five-minute major -- he cross-checked him in the lower back from behind in a vulnerable position," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "Whether the guy's acting or not, he did kind of a wishbone into the boards. We would expect the same thing in return."
Carcillo briefly went to the dressing room for some treatment before returning to the bench.
The Leafs spent all night playing catch-up, but never quite got there -- and lost their third in a row, dropping them six points out of the last playoff spot in the East heading into a critical game against seventh-place Buffalo on Saturday.
"I guess this just makes Saturday's game all the more important," forward Joffrey Lupul said. "There's a lot of games left but this is basically as close to a must win as you can get."
The Eastern Conference-leading Flyers held off the Leafs despite missing top defenseman Chris Pronger because of an upper-body injury.
Meszaros, Darroll Powe and Claude Giroux scored for Philadelphia, which won back-to-back games for the first time in three weeks.
"The last month, we haven't been playing the way we should," Giroux said. "I think tonight we played a 60-minute game and guys were playing together and the puck was moving and we had fun doing it."
Mikhail Grabovski and Lupul replied for the Maple Leafs.
Not only was Komisarek's ejection costly because it allowed Meszaros to open the scoring, but it also forced Wilson to rely more heavily on his other blue-liners.
"You're down to five (defensemen) with 56 minutes left out of 60," said Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf, who played a game-high 29:35. "It's not good when you lose a D-man that early. It's part of the game and I though we adapted OK."
James Reimer finished with 30 saves but would have liked another chance at the shot that became Philadelphia's second goal. The rookie goaltender was trying to get up off the ice when Powe swept a shot from an awkward angle through his legs at 9:36 of the second period for a 2-0 lead.
"We lost by one goal," Reimer said. "If I don't make that mistake we're in overtime."
Grabovski gave Toronto a brief jolt with the most painful of his 26 goals this season. He was standing at the side of the goal when Phaneuf's point shot ricocheted off his visor and past Brian Boucher at 11:13 for the Leafs' first power-play goal in six games.
"Thank God he's wearing a shield, which everybody should be wearing for that very reason right there," Wilson said. "He'd have gotten the puck right in the forehead."
Boucher preserved the lead with a big glove save on Colby Armstrong before Giroux put the Flyers ahead 3-1 at 14:40, beating Reimer with a one-timer from the slot.
Fourth-liner Mike Brown was the unlikely catalyst for Toronto in the third period, turning defenseman Sean O'Donnell inside-out before setting up Lupul's goal at 7:56. The Leafs pressed the rest of the way but couldn't get another puck behind Boucher.
"We played hard, but we didn't play hard enough," Phaneuf said. "It's a disappointing loss, that's for sure."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report