No flippin' chance

Flyers’ Mike Richards beats goalie Vesa Toskala from his knee during last night’s 4-1 victory over...

Flyers’ Mike Richards beats goalie Vesa Toskala from his knee during last night’s 4-1 victory over the Maple Leafs in Philly. (TIM SHAFFER/Reuters)

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:02 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA -- The Flyers no longer resort to thuggery for home-ice advantage, but once again they are making life miserable for NHL visitors to the city of Brotherly Love.

A sellout crowd of 19,787 at the Wachovia Center got the big Philly sports weekend started in style last night with a 4-1 win over a hard-luck Maple Leafs squad that had one of it's better efforts of the new year.

It was the eighth consecutive home victory for the Atlantic Division leaders and even in a game that could have easily gone the other way, the Flyers are finding ways to add to their winning run.

"It's a tough place to come to play here in Philly and the other teams know it," Flyers forward Simon Gagne said. "We've had a pretty good December and we'd like to come here and do it for the rest of the season."

For the Leafs, it was more a case of bad breaks than a bad effort as they dropped their third in a row and seventh game of their past nine.

But for a pair of power-play goals by the Flyers -- including the game-winner by Jeff Carter six minutes into the third period -- the Leafs came close to the upset win.

Vesa Toskala had one of his strongest games of the season in the net for the Leafs, but had no shot on Carter's winner or Mike Richards' power-play effort in the first.

In fact, after tying it on Alexei Ponikarovsky's 14th goal of the season in the first minute of the third, it was anyone's game.

"We had them under siege for shifts at a time," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said of the effort. "But we couldn't find a way to crack (Philly goalie Marty Biron).

"I thought we had completely taken control by the third period. Then we had bad luck with a slash of the stick that went unnoticed."

On the play in question, Leafs forward Nik Antropov had his stick chopped loose by a Flyer and while scurrying to the bench to get a new one, the defence couldn't adjust quick enough.

As a result, Carter slipped in alone on Toskala to bury the game-winner on a clever deke. When the Flyers added an empty-netter in the third, he took the NHL goal-scoring lead with 29.

With the city abuzz about the NFL's Eagles set to face the Super Bowl champion New York Giants in a playoff game today in New Jersey, the Flyers fed off the energy in the building. The Wachovia Center was electric when the scoreboard screens showed highlights of the Eagles playoff win against the Minnesota Vikings last week.

SLUGGISH START

The Flyers are starting to make their own story after a sluggish start to the season. They are now 14-4-3 in Philly and have outscored their opponents 40-20 in that eight-game home winning streak. The Flyers haven't lost in regulation time at home since early November.

The Leafs can take heart from a solid effort that wasn't rewarded with a win, thanks in large part to the work of Biron, who is a red-hot 7-1-2 in his past 10 starts.

"I thought we felt way better than the last few games but we didn't get the result," Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle said. "When they scored the second power-play goal, we had to open up in the last 10 minutes. In the second and third, we had a lot of good scoring chances. We have to find a way to put them in."

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REPLAY

TURNING POINT

When Nik Antropov tried to sneak to the Maple Leafs bench to get a new stick 5:59 into the third period, it allowed Flyers forward Jeff Carter to streak in alone on goaltender Vesa Toskala.

Carter deked his way past Toskala and his waving stick and buried the backhander to break the a 1-1 tie.

PONI EXPRESS

Alex Ponikarovsky's 14th goal of the campaign put him one ahead of linemate Nik Antropov and two in front of Mikhail Grabovski.

AGENT ORANGE

That wasn't a problem with the colour on your television set, in case you were wondering.

The bright, pumpkin-orange uniforms the Flyers wore last night are their official third jerseys this season, replicas of the uniforms they wore when they joined the NHL in 1967.

FIGHT NIGHT

Though things calmed down considerably later in the game, the Leafs picked up where they left off in Montreal on Thursday.

Just two minutes in, Andre Deveaux dropped the gloves against Riley Cote and landed several shots.

POINT-GETTERS

Toronto G A P

Alexei Ponikarovsky 1 0 1

Matt Stajan 0 1 1

Nik Antropov 0 1 1

Philadelphia

Jeff Carter 2 0 2

Mike Richards 1 0 1

Andrew Alberts 1 0 1

Simon Gagne 0 1 1

Kimmo Timonen 0 1 1

Martin Biron 0 1 1

Scottie Upshall 0 1 1

Arron Asham 0 1 1

NEXT UP

Wednesday -- 7:30 p.m.; Nashville Predators at Maple Leafs; LeafsTV, AM 640


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