The Philadelphia Flyers’ 2013-14 season kicked off Wednesday evening, as they hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first regular season action in over five months. The Flyers called upon Steve Mason for goaltender responsibilities, while the Maple Leafs sent out Jonathan Bernier. The Maple Leafs, who beat the Montreal Canadiens last night, were less than 24 hours off of their last game action. This would not matter, as Bernier and the Maple Leafs would play a strong game from the second period on, handing the Flyers the loss in this season opener. The home team was given many opportunities, converting on just one of seven power plays. However, Bernier would shine in his Maple Leafs debut.
The Flyers did dominate the first period, beating the Leafs to many loose pucks and showing an extra jump in their collective step. They outshot the Maple Leafs 15-9 in the first period, and had a long period of sustained pressure in the offensive zone. It finally paid off right at the end of the period on the power play, as Brayden Schenn received a perfectly placed pass from Vinny Lecavalier to put the Flyers up 1-0. Steve Mason was not tested much in the opening period, but when he was, he got the job done.
Toronto bounced back a bit in the second period, skewing the offensive zone time a bit more in their favor. Both goalies were solid for most of the period. However, late in the period, Dion Phaneuf picked off a Flyers’ clearing attempt and flung a wrist shot on Mason, who gave up a long rebound. Phil Kessel found the rebound and put it home over the shoulder of Mason to tie the game 1-1.
Despite sloppy play by Toronto, including five penalties which resulted in five Philadelphia power plays, the score remained tied at the end of the period. In the closing seconds of the second period, the Flyers even drew a penalty shot, as Wayne Simmonds stole the puck from Toronto defensemen Paul Ranger, who took Simmonds down just before he reached the net on a breakaway. On the penalty shot, Simmonds tried going five-hole on Jonathan Bernier, but was unsuccessful in doing so, failing to convert his second career penalty shot.
Once the third period started, Toronto wasted no time taking the lead. After a strange bounce off a Joffrey Lupul pass from behind the net that appeared to go deflect off of Luke Schenn, Dave Bolland collected the bounce and deposited the puck in the back of the net to give Toronto a 2-1 lead. After this goal was scored, the Flyers showed signs of deflation. The extra jump in their step that they showed in the first period seemed non-existent after they lost the lead. With just 22.5 seconds to go in the game, Dave Bolland added an insurance goal on the power play to put the Maple Leafs up 3-1.
The Flyers were given many chances tonight, as Toronto kept making mistakes and committing penalties. However, the Flyers, who had the third best power play in the NHL last year, squandered all but one of these opportunities. Combine this with an absolutely locked-in Jonathan Bernier, and it almost makes sense that the Flyers walk away from their season opener without points. Toronto also shut down the Flyers in the neutral zone, and gave them major problems in entering the offensive zone during the second half of this game.
Steve Mason stopped 22 out of 25 shots, while Bernier stopped an impressive 31 out of 32 shots. The Leafs improve to 2-0-0 with the win, and the Flyers drop to 0-1-0. The Flyers will travel to Montreal to play the Canadiens on Saturday night.
19:53, 1st Period: Brayden Schenn (1), Assisted by Vinny Lecavalier (1) and Mark Streit (1)
17:06, 2nd Period: Phil Kessel (1), Assisted by Dion Phaneuf (1)
2:30, 3rd Period: Dave Bolland (1), Assisted by Joffrey Lupul (1) and Nikolai Kulemin (2)
19:38, 3rd Period: Dave Bolland (2), Assisted by Joffrey Lupul (2) and Cody Franson (2)
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