PHILADELPHIA – It took 11 rounds to decide the shootout, but at least the Flyers could take some comfort from a spirited effort against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Flyers came out on the short end of a 4-3 score on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center when Toronto’s Andreas Johnsson scored against goalie Brian Elliott.
However, the Flyers saved a point and managed to make it a three-point weekend (including Friday night’s 4-3 win at New Jersey), a far cry from their previous two games when they were run out of town at Long Island and Pittsburgh.
Elliott, who kept the Flyers in this game with some sensational play in the opening 10 minutes and then down the stretch, said there were some positives to be taken from this game.
“I wanted to have that last one there and keep it going,’’ said Elliott. “But that’s a big point for us on a back-to-back night against a team that was waiting (in Philadelphia) for us.’’
After the kind of dismal night he was experiencing, Travis Sanheim no doubt needed something to pick up his spirits.
Sanheim had fallen down on one play leading to the Maple Leafs’ first goal.
Then he was in the wrong place at the wrong time, watching the rebound of a Jason Spezza shot bounce off his skate and then his stick to tie the score late in the second period.
But then, Sanheim found redemption.
Just 31 seconds into the third period, Sanheim swept out from behind the Toronto net and lifted a backhand shot past a startled Frederik Andersen, breaking a 2-2 tie to give the Flyers a 3-2 lead.
That edge was brief as Mitch Marner scored at 5:03 on a sweep around the net past defenseman Matt Niskanen.
Like Elliott, Sanheim was encouraged by his team’s play in a difficult situation.
“We weren’t happy with those two (Islanders, Penguins),’’ he said. “It was nice to bounce back last night and tonight the way it ended was unfortunate but we battled hard and it’s a good hockey team over there.’’
Sean Couturier, battling a hand injury, liked the way his team came back following the two bad losses.
“I thought we responded pretty well,’’ he said. “There were two tight games, New Jersey was a tight-checking game. We found a way to get two points. Tonight it was a little more offensive. . .I thought we could have had a better result but that’s the way it goes sometime.’’
Added Jake Voracek: “We got three points, we could have got four. We have a lot of things to work on but for sure, better than the games on Long Island and Pittsburgh.’’
Coach Alain Vigneault had Joel Farabee and Voracek switch lines and the move seemed to have a positive effect on Voracek, who assisted on the Flyers’ first two goals.
Following a goal by Toronto’s Kasperi Kapanen at 5:55 of the first period (Sanheim slipped and fell, allowing Kapanen a clear path to Elliott), the Flyers bounced back on a power-play goal by Ivan Provorov.
Provorov’s shot from the point hit a Toronto defender’s stick and skidded past goaltender Frederick Andersen at 15:02.
The Flyers took a 2-1 lead at 3:12 of the second period, also on a power play.
Claude Giroux skated out of the left circle, deked his way to Andersen’s doorstep and punched home a shot.
Toronto tied the score at 2-2 at 17:55. Sanheim once again was victimized. This time, Spezza broke in on Elliott and had his shot partially blocked by the goalie. But the puck slid off to the side, hit Sanheim’s skate and, in trying to make a clear, it appeared the defenseman bumped the puck across the line.
By the end of the night, it seemed like everyone was happy just to go home.
“There were a lot of things to like about tonight’s game,’’ Vigneault said. “We started out a little slow. When you have back-to-back nights you need goaltending and we got goaltending tonight.
“Brian gave us a chance to find our legs, find our execution and I thought in the second and third periods we were the better team. We came up a goal short but I like the way our team competed tonight.’’
>Stewart, Hagg scratched
Chris Stewart was scratched and replaced by forward Tyler Pitlick. Robert Hagg sat for a second straight game in favor of Philippe Myers.