TORONTO – All it took to burst the Flyers’ bubble for a strong road trip start was 6 minutes, 15 seconds.
That critical, second period juncture Monday night at Air Canada Centre saw the Maple Leafs turn a tie game into an ugly 5-2 trouncing, as the Flyers' horrific road play continued.
“It’s not the chances, we had chances for sure,” said Flyer captain Claude Giroux of 46 shots.
“That six minutes in the second period killed us. That hurts. We were playing well. We have to learn from this and not back down.”
Three Leafs goals did the trick as Peter Laviolette’s club dropped to 1-6-0 on the road.
“There was room for simpler ideas at that point,” Laviolette said of the six-minute disaster where the Leafs had the Flyers pinned in their own end with mistakes.
“They’ve hurt us in the past and hurt is in the span of six minutes. It’s tough. The first one goes in, we shot ourselves in the foot, and then it unravels for five minutes.”
The six-game trip continues Tuesday night in Winnipeg.
“We gave them those turnovers,” Kimmo Timonen said of the middle stanza. “Sometimes you have to play a simple game and we didn’t do that.”
Timonen said the club’s road woes comes down to “individual preparation.”
“Doesn’t matter if you are home or away, you have to play consistent,” he said. “Once you come on the road you have to prepare yourself even more.
“There’s no fans behind you, no one cheering your name. That’s a learning process to me and it’s time to learn this right now.”
Starter Ilya Bryzgalov yielded four goals on just 14 shots before being replaced by Brian Boucher, who was hoping to make his first start against the Jets.
Bryz avoided the media by going out the rear door of the dressing room.
Not even a five-minute power play that same period could see the Flyers climb back; their continued lack of offense is alarming.
Oh yeah. James van Riemsdyk, in his first meeting against his former club, scored on a nice backhander against Boosh in the third period to really rub it in. How ironic that he moved right around Luke Schenn on the goal.
Usually, the Flyers give a pretty good effort. They needed a point in this one because there is no guarantee they’ll get one in The Peg, where they split the season series last year.
So, the seven points in four home games wasn’t a sign of what was to unfold here, after all.
“We need to find a way to be more consistent here and not have these highs and lows,” Nick Grossmann said. “We have to find ways to grind it out for 60 minutes.”
Laviolette wanted a strong start and he got it from the opening shift when Wayne Simmonds picked up his third goal at 38 seconds, rebounding a point drive from Schenn.
“After that goal, they were the better team – they were hungrier and when that happens, you create turnovers like they did in the second period,” Timonen said.
Bryzgalov got a ton of help later in the period when Mikhail Grabovski’s drive ripped off the cross bar and right post in a split-second.
No matter, the Leafs tied at 14:49 on Dion Phaneuf’s first point on home ice this season. Bryzgalov never saw his shot from the left point because Nikolai Kulemin was blocking his vision.
As usual, the Flyers had a couple of bad penalties at the end, and survived a 36-second 5-on-3 kill. Ironically, they also had the best chance shorthanded there, when it was 5-on-4 off the initial holding call against Zac Rinaldo.
Giroux, who was visibly angry after the game, stole a puck in the corner and fed Matt Read down the slot for what should have been an easy marker against goalie James Reimer.
Except Read’s initial shot sailed wide. The rebound came back to him. This time, Reimer made a sprawling left pad save.
The Flyers came out very lame in the second period and paid a steep price as Toronto scored twice in 28 seconds to take a 3-1 lead.
Colton Orr outworked Grossmann in the crease for the first goal at 2:05, but the fault lies in Tommy Sestito throwing the puck behind the net when he could have cleared it down the wall.
Then Matt Frattin got a short-side tip to make it 3-1 at 2:33. Laviolette called his timeout less than a minute later to settle things down.
Shortly before the four-minute mark, Reimer went down on the ice injured and had to be helped off. He was replaced by Ben Scrivens.
That didn’t help the Flyers at all because they again failed to clear the zone under Leafs pressure at 6:15 and paid the price on Clarke MacArthur’s wide-open one-timer from Nazem Kadri that blew the game apart.
Laviolette then yanked Bryzgalov, saying he wanted “a different change of direction in the game.”
“It’s six minutes you’d like to have back and do over,” Laviolette said.
As bad as that was, the Flyers had a real chance to get back into the game when Korbinian Holzer was ejected with a five-minute major on Tye McGinn at 13:31.
The Flyers completely squandered the resulting five-minute power play with six shots. Scrivens made a glove save on Brayden Schenn – the only decent shot he faced.
Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren, speaking on Toronto radio after that period, said his team lacked confidence with the puck that entire power play sequence.
“That [power play] could have changed the tide,” Simmonds said. “We had chances. Pucks laying around. Guys diving everywhere.
“You have scrambles and sometimes you get the benefit of the bounces and sometimes you don’t.
“We've got to be better on the power play. We got a lot of chances here to get back in games and put games away and we’re not doing it.”