From bad to worse

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:34 AM ET

Carlo Colaiacovo has knee problems.

Again.

A misfiring Maple Leafs offence could not, other than captain Mats Sundin, hit the back of the net.

Again.

And the Maple Leafs found a way to flush away points in the late going.

Again.

The more things change in Leafland, the more they seem to stay the same.

Give the home side credit for putting in a strong effort. They peppered Philadelphia Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki with 56 shots and overcame a two-goal deficit in the third period, thanks to Sundin's 19th and 20th markers of the season.

But a power-play goal by the Flyers' Mike Richards with just 2:51 remaining spoiled the party, giving the visitors a 3-2 win over the Leafs in front of a disgruntled capacity throng at the Air Canada Centre last night.

Frustrated coach Paul Maurice, the pressure of a fifth loss in six post-Christmas outings weighing heavily on his shoulders, obviously was not happy with the officiating, especially in the late going when the game was in doubt.

But first and foremost on his mind was the state of Colaiacovo, who was helped off the ice in the first period after absorbing an accidental knee-on-knee collision with the Flyers' Jim Dowd. The young Leaf defenceman hurt his right knee in the process, the same knee he had surgically repaired back in late April.

"He wasn't good enough to return," Maurice said when asked about Colaiacovo's condition. "People who know about that stuff are looking at him. After having (the previous injury), it's hard to assess it right now."

Colaiacovo was playing in just his fifth game of the season after spending nine months rehabbing that same knee.

"He's a young guy that could be a superstar in this league if he stayed healthy," Sundin said. "Hopefully this isn't too bad."

For the injury-plagued Colaiacovo, who has suited up in just 78 NHL games since being the 17th overall pick in the 2001 entry draft, the bad luck continues.

Should Colaiacovo be sidelined for an extended period, as it initially appeared, Andy Wozniewski, a healthy scratch last night, could find his way back into the Toronto lineup for the upcoming three-game west coast trip through Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose.

"(Carlo's) had a really bad run," Maurice said.

As for the refereeing, the Leafs bench boss had to bite his tongue in order not to receive a hefty fine from the league's grand poohbahs. But it was obvious that he was bristling at a number of issues.

Like the apparent punch to the face thrown by the Flyers' Steve Downie at Jason Blake during a third-period scrum, leaving Downie with a double minor and Blake nursing a shiner while serving a two-minute roughing penalty.

Asked if he had an opinion on the incident, Maurice replied: "I have a very strong one that matters not."

Keep in mind that Downie, who scored his first NHL goal last night, received a 20-game suspension during the pre-season for leaving his feet and plastering Ottawa Senators forward Dean McAmmond.

The 56 shots registered by the Leafs were the most on home ice since they fired 53 during a game against the visiting Florida Panthers back on April 11, 2006.

At the other end of the ice, goalie Andrew Raycroft, who received the Bronx cheer from the home fans the first time he touched the puck, was solid, stopping 29 of 32 Flyer shots.

But when Ian White was fingered for holding at 16:05 of the third period, the stage was set for Richards' heroics.

Just another call Maurice didn't like on this night.

One of many things.

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REPLAY

SWEET JUSTICE

Toronto got back in the game when Mats Sundin scored in the third after Steve Downie took a double minor for roughing up Jason Blake and sending the Leaf to the dressing room to ice down a bruised face. The Flyers had, at that point, accumulated five roughing penalties and a game misconduct. It might not be the Broad St. Bullies but there's a definite family resemblance.

BIG SHOTS

When they surpassed the 50-shot mark last night it marked the first time since April 11, 2006 they'd hit 50-plus.

IT'S A KILLER

The Leafs power play had numerous chances to cut into the 2-0 lead in the first 40 minutes. The Flyers came into the game in the middle of the pack with a penalty-killing unit working at 81.7%. But the defence collapsed around Antero Niittymaki in the first two periods to clear away numerous rebounds. That left the Leafs 0-for-5 after two periods on the power play even though they did have 10 shots. Toronto also had a season high for shots in one period when it put 20 shots on net in the second period.


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