Just when it looked like the Flyers were about to get sent packing against the high-powered Maple Leafs, a late rally made things very interesting on Thursday afternoon.
Down 4-1 as time was running out in the third period, Philadelphia picked up goals from Morgan Frost and Joel Farabee only 1:23 apart to get to within a goal.
However, that’s as close as the Flyers could get as they dropped a 4-3 decision at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
At least the Flyers refused to call it a day after going down by three goals and that speaks to this young team’s resilience.
“I think all year, if you look at our group, we’ve never quit,’’ Farabee said after the game. “We’ve never just packed it in and said we’ll move on to the next one. A lot of credit to the players in the room. We know we have to play a full 60 (minutes) every night to give ourselves a chance.
“Even when we were down three to get within one, that definitely gives you a little confidence. But you don’t want to be in that situation every game.’’
Added Frost: “The team’s playing well, we’re kind of in every game. We can’t seem to find a way to finish it all off.’’
Flyers goaltender Carter Hart did his best to keep the Leafs off the scoreboard but in the second period the Flyers took a pair of borderline penalties and it cost them.
Toronto, which leads the NHL with a plus-22 in the second period, held a 15-5 edge in shots in the middle frame and a 26-8 advantage for the first two periods.
Just after time expired on the first power play, Toronto scored to tie the score, then got a go-ahead goal with the man advantage again for a 2-1 edge.
The Flyers entered the game barely above 75 percent on the penalty kill and hovering around 24th in the NHL.
Meanwhile, the Leafs have some of the most accurate snipers in the league and demonstrated some of that skill in this game.
Coach John Tortorella indicated the second period ultimately was his team’s downfall.
“Penalties and just not able to get pucks behind their defense,’’ the coach said. “Transition, we allowed their top guys to get going on the power play. Our second period was atrocious.’’
The Flyers got off to a good start with a power-play goal of their own at 4:26 of the first period. Tony DeAngelo’s shot from the point made its way through a screen and past goaltender Ilya Samsonov.
That held up until Calle Jarnkrok connected at 16:50 of the second period. He deflected Mitch Marner’s shot past Hart just three seconds after a power play was completed.
Then Rasmus Ristolainen went off for holding and the Leafs struck again. This time, Marner’s shot from above the hash marks hit the net at 19:23.
The Leafs’ offense kept things rolling in the third period. Just 33 seconds into that frame, Michael Bunting finished off a tic-tac-toe play to make it 3-1.
Toronto went ahead by a 4-1 margin when William Nylander scored at 11:39.
Following that, the Flyers began their rally when Frost scored off an assist from Travis Konecny at 12:01. That was followed by Farabee’s goal at 13:24, again with an assist from Konecny.
Konecny’s first assist was his 300th NHL point. He’s the 31st Flyer to achieve that milestone.
Frost has four points in his last three games and clearly has taken his game to a new level over the past couple weeks. The goal was his sixth of the season, a career high. The old mark of five was set last season over a 55-game span.
“I feel the best I’ve felt in my pro career right now,’’ Frost said. “Hopefully I can keep it going.’’
Philadelphia had just over a minute of a five-on-three power play in the third period but could not convert.
“I thought our offensive guys struggled through a lot of the game,’’ Tortorella said. “I thought they came alive toward the end and found a way to make it close. The second period just took us out of the game. We just lost all momentum and allowed their team to feel it and put their team on the power play three times.’’
The Flyers finish their pre-holiday schedule with a game at Carolina on Friday night. . .Nick Seeler was a healthy scratch. . .The Flyers have lost five straight to the Maple Leafs. . .Frost has scored in three straight games. . .Farabee swung his stick in frustration after missing an open net with about five minutes to play.