Leafs keep pace with victory over Flyers

The Leafs will need to make hay in their next four games against non-playoff opponents, starting with a exhausted Flyers team on Thursday night.

It was a much-needed win for the Toronto Maple Leafs who came off a bad California road trip.

Babcock said last month that William Nylander (who played the entire 2015-16 season at center) will stay on the wing through next season, but could be moved back to the middle in 2018, which coincides with the end of Bozak's contract. But what happens is you want to go from that to a bunch of young kids and get going again, and it doesn't happen and that's the problem. We've got a really good training staff here and I spent a lot of time trying to get ready. "Everyone contributing, we've got all four lines rolling and that's what we need the rest of the year if we want to make the playoffs". It was a superb individual effort that gave the Maple Leafs a second period lead they would not relinquish.

Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said that he has no answers to what he can tell his young team to help them hold leads.

The Leafs in the short-term have journeyman Ben Smith and rookie Frederik Gauthier as depth options, but there is not much help available to them after that from the Toronto Marlies. "I think it's so important that you learn what it takes to be a great, great pro, and then the more of those good pros you have in your room, the better chance you have for success".

"I think if you look at the standings we are right there", Rielly said.

"Tonight shows what we're capable of 5-on-5", said rookie Travis Konecny, who had a goal and an assist in the third period in his second game back after missing nine with knee and ankle injuries.

Auston Matthews points slump reached four games, with Marner once more threatening his team lead of 55. Michal Neuvirth made 29 saves.

"They're a good team without the puck", Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "There were portions of the game where we did an excellent job and there were other times where we weren't effective". He made his biggest stop on a Claude Giroux one-timer.

Henny came in clutch with the best statistic of the game. "The playoff push is on and we need every point we can get". I'm pretty upset right now, we needed that win and it wasn't good enough. He had watched Steve Mason start the four previous games, three of them wins.

A little bit of sloppiness goes a long way and that's what the second period was. The Leafs are 5-2-0 against those three teams so far this season.

With just 6:16 left in the third period regulation Marner notched his 16th goal of the season to put the Leafs ahead 3-1.

They killed that off but Flyer defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere scored at 17:32 to restore the tension. Kadri scored his 28th goal of the season into an empty net at 19:00. For example, in the first period the Leafs played as loose defensively as they ever have all season but could only manage seven shots on goal.

Marner took a meaningless offensive zone tripping penalty.

It was Nylander's 47th point, team-best 13th power play goal and 21st extra-man point.

Simmonds, the Scarborough-born winger with 10 points in 11 games at the Air Canada Centre, was also frustraing the Leafs during the first half of a Radko Gudas penalty, wasting precious seconds as he picked off passes, out-muscled people and pinned the puck on the boards.

It came less than 20 seconds after Andersen had made a couple of tough saves, including one on Michael Del Zotto, made the particular shift the one that swung momentum for the period. Moving into next season - at which point the rookies will have a full year of NHL experience under their belts - it will be interesting to see whether the Leafs start to move away from the wide-open hockey we've seen this season and revert to more traditional Babcockian systems. The 20-year-old has been a minus player in only two of his last 15 games.

  • Joanne Flowers