Maple Leafs beat Flyers in overtime

Leafs Joffrey Lupul was wide open beside Flyers Steve Mason and buried the winning goal in OT....

Leafs Joffrey Lupul was wide open beside Flyers Steve Mason and buried the winning goal in OT. Leafs win 4-3 in OT. (Jack Boland/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:27 AM ET

The Maple Leafs needed to leave town on the right note.

And after blowing two third-period leads, they finally did. Joffrey Lupul poked an overtime goal over Steve Mason in a 4-3 win over Philadelphia, with badly needed secondary scoring coming through at various stages.

Giving up a third-period lead for the fourth time in five games since the Olympic break, they let the Philadelphia Flyers recover twice. But the win allowed the Leafs to keep pace in an increasingly tightening pack atop the Eastern Conference.

With just over a minute to go in the game after Mason Raymond had given Toronto its advantage back, Braydon Coburn found a high hole past Jonathan Bernier.

This was not the team to fool around with in the late going. The Flyers, who came into the game tied with the Islanders for the league lead with seven wins when trailing after two periods. Philly struck late in the second and midway through the third, both by defenceman Kimmo Timonen. On the latter, Jakub Voracek drew the Leafs towards him from behind the net, then fed the puck through Dion Phaneuf and Tim Gleason to a pinching Timonen.

That was preceded by two show-stopper saves, with Mason denying Leafs ace Phil Kessel and Bernier halting Mark Streit on the doorstep. The Leafs struggling power play had an opportunity to restore the lead right after when Timonen was called, but finished the night 0-for-3 with another threat of giving up a short-handed goal.

Hurting for secondary scoring, the Leafs also received a big game from checking winger Troy Bodie, who assisted on Raymond’s goal.

Toronto now heads out for five games in eight days, starting with three in four nights in California. That’s a trip coach Randy Carlyle circled way back in October as being a measuring stick for his club. The Ducks, Sharks and Kings occupy three of the top six positions in the Western Conference, all three have hulking lineups and all are anxious to face the Leafs at home after a long absence caused by the lockout.

The trip ends with two Eastern teams the Leafs must stay close to, Detroit and Washington.

The Flyers had engaged in a rough game against the Capitals in their last outing, their eighth win in the past 10. And they had the right stuff to start Saturday’s match, but not the bounces as the Leafs turned those chances back into high-flying goals.

With a hastily constructed fourth line of Jay McClement, Bodie and Frazer McLaren (called up when David Clarkson booked off with a lingering leg injury) the Leafs opened the scoring. Bodie poked the puck away from Mason to keep the play alive and then Jake Gardiner came in from the point, let eight players build up traffic and then put his sixth of the year through with Bodie providing the main screen.

Nazem Kadri then supplied his second goal in as many games and first in back-to-back contests since late October. He came up behind Lupul on a rush just 1:17 after Gardiner.

Mason stood much taller after that as the Leafs buzzed but could not build their lead higher in the second period. The Flyer got their nasty on as the game progressed, eventually leading to a lively fight between ex-Leaf Jay Rosehill and McLaren.

The Flyers kept the heat on and took a page from the Leafs with a full bore assault on the net, distracting Bernier on Timonen’s first goal.

Though Clarkson was out, Carlyle kept winger Carter Ashton in reserve and stayed with his seven-defencemen rotation. It helped keep banged-up ice time leader Phaneuf fresh as he came back from two days of not practising.


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