(Sports Network) - The Toronto Maple Leafs are right in the thick of the
Eastern Conference playoff race thanks to an eight-game point streak, while a
season-high three-game winning streak has the Philadelphia Flyers looking to
crash the party as well.
The two clubs meet for the third and final time this regular season on
Thursday night in Toronto.
The Leafs have gone 5-0-3 over their past eight games and sit in a tie for
fifth overall in the East with the Ottawa Senators with 44 points. That has
them five points ahead of a trio of teams in the conference that are tied for
the final two postseason spots.
The Flyers are looking to join that group and sit four points back of the
three teams thanks to their first three-game winning streak of the season.
They picked up a big 5-3 victory over the Northeast Division-leading Montreal
Canadiens on Wednesday night.
Philadelphia trailed by a goal after giving up two scores 20 seconds apart
late in the second period, but got some fortunate bounces in the third frame.
Wayne Simmonds was credited with a tying goal at the 14:54 mark of the third
when Bruno Gervais' shot hit off his right skate and in, while Erik Gustafsson
put the Flyers ahead with 3:36 to play when his centering pass hit off a
Montreal player and into the back of the net.
Jakub Voracek had an empty-net goal, while Sean Couturier and Simon Gagne also
lit the lamp in the victory, which gave the Flyers a 3-1-1 record on a five-
game homestand ahead of their upcoming three-game swing.
"We have a never-quit attitude and we're getting rewarded for it," said Flyers
forward Brayden Schenn. "It doesn't matter if we're down two or up one, we're
still working hard in the third periods and trying to win hockey games. We got
to keep it going."
Ilya Bryzgalov faced only two Montreal shots in the third and finished with 14
saves. He has appeared in 34 of Philadelphia's 36 games this season, but could
be in line for some time off after the Flyers acquired former Calder Trophy
winning netminder Steve Mason from the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday for
backup goaltender Michael Leighton and a 2015 third-round pick.
Mason shined in his debut season of 2008-09, helping the Blue Jackets make
their only postseason appearance. He captured the Calder Trophy after logging
33 wins, 10 shutouts and a 2.29 goals against average.
For his career, Mason has compiled a 96-99-27 record with a 2.90 GAA, .903
save percentage and 19 shutouts.
It is unknown who will start versus the Maple Leafs.
Philadelphia, which saw forward Zac Rinaldo leave last night's game with a
lower body injury, also claimed forward Adam Hall off waivers from the Tampa
The Maple Leafs take aim at a fourth straight victory on Thursday night as
well and have been out of action since a 4-0 win over the Senators on
Nazem Kadri and Joffrey Lupul both factored into all four goals. Kadri posted
the second hat trick of his career with an assist, while Lupul had a goal and
Kadri leads the Leafs with 17 goals and 39 points, while Lupul has notched at
least one goal in all six games he has played since missing most of the season
with a broken forearm. He has eight goals and five helpers in that span.
"It's really easy to play with him because he's always in the right place at
the right time," said Kadri about Lupul. "We've been working really well
together and it's been fun here."
James Reimer stopped 31 shots for his second shutout of the season.
Toronto made one trade prior to Wednesday's deadline, getting defenseman Ryan
O'Byrne from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the
The Maple Leafs have won both of their previous meetings with the Flyers this
season after dropping five straight and nine of the last 10 encounters. They
snapped a five-game series home losing streak with a 5-2 win on Feb. 11.
The Sports Network