By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
One night after being outmatched by a superior team, the Flyers found themselves in control of a game against one. The Flyers had a 5-2 lead on the Toronto Maple Leafs as the second period entered its final five minutes.
That's when all of the early season problems seemed to pop back up at once.
The Flyers defense was completely lost for the rest of the night, allowing easy entry and prime scoring chances from everywhere. The goaltending was suspect. The power play was pathetic.
It became a night to forget for the Flyers, as what remains of their playoff hopes took a massive hit with a 7-6 loss to the Maple Leafs on Friday night.
Toronto set the tone in the first with a power play that featured seven shots, but no goals, as Brian Elliott stood on his head to keep the game scoreless.
The Flyers actually got the first goal of the game, with Jake Voracek firing off a face-off and scoring for his 19th goal of the season.
Toronto got the game tied on the power play with Patrick Marleau getting a deflection on a William Nylander shot.
The Leafs were buzzing from there, nearly getting another goal as Auston Matthews put in a rebound. But the play was reviewed as the net was off its moorings and it was ruled no goal. Through 20 minutes. Toronto outshot the Flyers, 19-11.
The Flyers grabbed the lead in the second on a deflection goal by James van Riemsdyk. Six minutes later, van Riemsdyk scored his second goal, getting a rebound in front.
Toronto did not go away from there as Mitch Marner set up Zach Hyman for a goal at the side of the net to cut the lead to one. But the Flyers responded with two goals in 58 seconds, a laser from Radko Gudas and a rebound goal by Shayne Gostisbehere.
Gostisbehere's goal came with 6:33 remaining in the period and the Flyers appeared to be in control with a three-goal lead. That quickly changed in the final five minutes of the period.
Jake Muzzin beat Elliott from the left circle with a perfectly placed shot to cut the lead to two with 3:52 left in the second. Just 2:03 later, Muzzin scored again as his shot from a distance also beat Elliott to cut the lead to one with 1:49 remaining.
The Flyers got a power play with 1:11 left in the period, but Toronto ended up with more chances while shorthanded. The Flyers managed to hold the lead into the third, but it took Toronto just 2:55 to tie the game. Martin Marincin took a point shot that hit the glove of Robert Hagg and went in to tie the game at five.
The 5-5 score held through most of the third period, including a Flyers power play for a Toronto too many men penalty. Finally, with five minutes left, Matthews got his goal that felt like it was coming all game. Matthews took a centering pass from Nylander behind the net that eluded three Flyers and beat Elliott to make it 6-5.
Just 2:21 later, Matthews struck again, scoring on a rebound to make it 7-5 with 2:39 remaining.
The Flyers got one goal back with the goalie pulled as van Riemsdyk deflected a shot by Claude Giroux to finish off the hat trick and cut the lead to one with 1:14 to play. The Flyers had possession in the final seconds and managed to get a chance on goal with two seconds left that did not go and the Leafs held on.
Elliott finished with 44 saves in the loss. Frederik Andersen stopped 23 of 29 shots in the win.
Toronto had six players finish with multi-point games. Matthews, Nylander, Nazem Kadri, Nikita Zaitsev and Ron Hainsey all finished with two points. Muzzin had a three-point game. The Flyers also had six players with multi-point games. Gostisbehere, Gudas, Nolan Patrick and Sean Couturier each had two points. Giroux and van Riemsdyk each had three points.
The Flyers season continues with a game on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Game time is 7:30.