Andersen makes 36 saves, Leafs playoff push gets boost with 4-2 win over Flyers

Leafs playoff push gets boost with 4-2 win over Flyers

TORONTO — Third-period leads haven’t always turned out well for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season, but they managed to protect a big one on Thursday night.

Frederik Andersen came up with 36 saves, including 19 in the final 20 minutes, as the Leafs edged out the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 and jumped — at least temporarily — back into the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Toronto now has 74 points — one behind the New York Islanders, who beat the Canucks 4-3 in overtime in Vancouver later that night to reclaim the wild-card spot.

“We know what we had to do â€” we came out and did it so it’s a good feeling,” defenceman Morgan Rielly said.

The win was the Leafs second straight after a slide of five in a row. It also kept a fellow competitor in the playoff chase from gaining ground, the Flyers entering the night just two points back.

It was the protection of a third-period lead that was otherwise notable in victory.

The Leafs have dropped an NHL-leading 10 games when leading after two periods (now 24-1-9), just hanging on to beat the Detroit Red Wings two nights earlier after racing out to a 3-0 lead. The club kept pushing with a 2-1 lead on Thursday, the trio of Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov and Connor Brown generating a number of early third-period opportunities.

Andersen shined too with a big stop of Claude Giroux on a Philadelphia power play.

“I don’t think we were passive,” said Kadri, who scored his 28th goal of the year in the win. “I think we had a ton of scoring chances and were able to put pressure on their D and just wear them down physically. We just tried to get as many hits as we could and play in the offensive zone as much as possible and I really think that did the job.”

“I think that we continued to go after them,” added Rielly. “We continued to try to play offence, not sit back, execute plays and just continue to work hard.”

Among the younger teams in the league with little experience in a playoff chase beyond a handful of veterans, Rielly said the Leafs were still learning how to defend leads adequately. 

Mitch Marner finally upped the team’s cushion to 3-1 on a power play, his 16th goal and 53rd point of the season. Fellow rookie William Nylander got Toronto on the board in the first, his ninth power-play goal of the year not only evening the score at one after Wayne Simmonds gave the Flyers the early lead, but equalling a franchise rookie record for power-play goals in one season.

The 20-year-old leads the Leafs and all NHL rookies with 21 power-play points this season, now just four points from matching Dan Daoust for another franchise rookie mark. Aimless for much of the advantage, Nylander quickly changed his team’s course by whipping a shot from the right faceoff circle by Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth.

Tyler Bozak scored the go-ahead goal near the midway point of the second, picking the puck free from Sean Couturier along the boards before wheeling through the slot and beating Neuvirth. The play followed two huge stops at the other end by Andersen, first on Brayden Schenn and then Michael Del Zotto quickly thereafter.

Andersen has picked up his play after struggling through January and February. He owns a .938 save percentage through three starts in March.

“Just the calm presence he has when he’s making those scrambling, big saves — he makes it look so easy and we feed off of that,” Bozak said.

Bozak, who added an assist in the win along with his 16th goal, was questionable to even play. He didn’t skate on Thursday morning and was listed as a game-time decision â€” perhaps bothered by a finger injury that forced him out of one game late last month.

Leafs coach Mike Babcock thought his team was more “assertive” in the final frame against the Flyers. He wasn’t pleased, however, with his team’s defence in the waning moments of regulation, Shayne Gostisbehere bringing Philadelphia back to within one with the net empty.

Andersen had to make three stops before Kadri iced it for the two-goal victory. 

Following the similarly close call over Detroit on Tuesday Babcock said his team lacked the stability of a veteran group “who has been through it before, someone goes out and calms everyone down and just makes a play.”

“We don’t,” he said. “It’s like a feeding frenzy.”

The Leafs will have to protect plenty more leads if they’re to secure just their second playoff berth since 2004, now with just 16 games remaining. 

Jonas Siegel, The Canadian Press

Canadian Press

Just Posted

(Dave Ogilvie photo)
One injured after being pinned by fallen forklift near Peachland

West Kelowna emergency crews responded to reports of a person stuck under a forklift

(Big White Ski Resort/Contributed)
Big White’s big clean-up: Large turnout for post-melt mountain tidy

More than 165 people showed up to help gather the litter left behind from the winter season

Mounties cover a burgundy truck with a tent at Buckerfields in West Kelowna on Monday, June 14. The RCMP is investigating after a woman’s body was found inside the truck. (Amandalina Letterio/Capital News)
West Kelowna RCMP investigating suspicious death after body found in truck

Police responded to a truck parked out front of a Main Street business where the body was found

(Jenna Cocullo / The Northern View)
Delays expected on Lakeshore Road this week

Northbound traffic on Lakeshore between Richter and Barrera will be detoured for paving

David Larsen, left, and co-host Tony Peyton. (K96.3/Twitter)
Popular Kelowna radio host dies after battle with cancer

David Larsen was half of the longtime Kelowna morning-show duo David and Tony

Singer-songwriter Jann Arden is pictured with a draft horse. (Canadian Horse Defence Coalition)
Jann Arden backs petition to stop live horse export

June 14 is the International Day to End Live Export of Animals

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price (31) is scored on by Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alec Martinez, not pictured, during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup semifinal playoff series Monday, June 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Habs fall 4-1 to Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of NHL semifinal series

Match was Montreal’s first game outside of Canada in 2021

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. ambulance station in Revelstoke is expected to get a new system called the Scheduled On-Call (SOC) this fall. (Liam Harrap - Revelstoke Review)
B.C. ambulance changes could put Revelstoke residents at risk, warn local paramedics

Paramedics said to expect a substantial increase in ambulance response time starting this fall

Jane Linden
KCR: Volunteering keeps you active

Kelowna Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

This goose family went for a leisurely stroll down Vernon’s Main Street Saturday, April 25. (Dave Deshane photo)
Controversial Vernon goose cull won’t fly this year

Necessary permit procedures held up at a federal level

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

Most Read