Gustavsson can't save Leafs

Maple Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson covers the puck as Flyers forward Maxime Talbot looks for a...

Maple Leafs goaltender Jonas Gustavsson covers the puck as Flyers forward Maxime Talbot looks for a rebound at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Penn., Oct. 24, 2011. (BRUCE BENNETT/Getty Images/AFP)

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:44 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA - No need to remind Jonas Gustavsson that it had been a while since he started a game and finished it with a win.

He’s still waiting after the Leafs lost 4-2 to the Philadelphia Flyers here Monday night, but this time the Monster was far from a horror show.

Getting his second start in three games replacing the injured James Reimer, Gustavsson kept his team in the game for the longest time. But when one of the league’s all-time greatest scorers was handed three breakaways, what’s a backup to do?

Jaromir Jagr, the 39-year-old sensation who hadn’t scored an NHL goal in 1,296 days, converted on two of those breakaways, ultimately providing the margin of victory for his team.

“Of course you want to stop them, but he’s a skill guy,” Gustavsson said when asked about facing Jagr one-on-one.

“He scored twice at the same spot. He’s got a long stick there so you can’t really cheat, either, then he’s going to fool you. You have to be ready for anything there when he shows up.”

With the Leafs offence generally gone dry — save for Phil Kessel’s ninth of the season, another rocket that beat Sergei Bobrovsky to open the scoring — the visitors had little answer for Jagr.

The loss dropped them to 1-2 on the team’s four-game road trip which will be completed Thursday night in Manhattan when they face the New York Rangers. Leafs coach Ron Wilson said the team will have some reinforcements for that one in multiple forms.

Reimer, who suffered whiplash when being run over by Brian Gionta on Saturday in Montreal, is expected to return. So to are centres Tim Connolly, who could make his regular-season debut as well as Tyler Bozak, who has missed the past two games with a foot injury.

On Monday, the Leafs hung with the Flyers until deep into the second period when Jagr and Scott Hartnell, who also had a pair, took control.

“I thought that Monster was really good for us, he gave us a chance to win,” Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said of the Leafs backup, who hasn’t had a complete-game win since Jan. 6.. “He made some really big saves. You look at the goals and he didn’t have much of a chance on any of them. I thought he was really good for us tonight. I wish we could have helped him a little big more.”

Jagr, a five-time NHL scoring leader from 1995 to 2001, looks like he hasn’t lost a step since his return to the NHL. He hadn’t scored in the Flyers’ first seven contests and was itching to break out. When defensive breakdowns gave him wide swaths of open ice, he put on a show.

“You don’t want to see Jaromir Jagr coming in alone with nobody around him,” Wilson said. “He’s more than likely going to bury it. He’s a fantastic player when he gets time and space like that.”

It was just like old times for Jagr, who offered his trademark post-goal salute.

“It’s nice to see him get a couple tonight and hopefully we keep on rolling,” Hartnell said. “We were wondering ... we had a little wager on the side on whether he was going to do it or not. He hasn’t lost a step with that and he had a big grin on his face.”

After the NHL’s leading scorer, Kessel, opened things, the Flyers tied it up on the power play with Jagr’s first breakaway set up by a Claude Giroux pass and a flat-footed Leafs defenceman Mike Komisarek. Hartnell added another with the extra man to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead 8:34 into the third.

Toronto centre David Steckel, who scored his third in as many games, pulled the Leafs to within one at 11:34 but then Jagr got loose one more time and put it away with just less than five minutes remaining.

“Truly, I needed it,” Jagr said. “I feel a lot better right now than I have, that’s for sure. I changed everything: The skate, gloves, I got hit in the head during warm-ups, so that helped.”


Videos

Photos