Flyers-Maple Leafs observations: Jakub Voracek, top line sparks bounce-back win


TORONTO — The Flyers were determined they weren't going to leave Canada without declaring a victory through customs, taking down the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-2, Saturday night at Air Canada Center.

The Flyers dominated the second period, outshooting the Leafs, 16-8, and grabbed a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes. That was all they needed.

With the win, the Flyers improved to 5-0-0 this season when leading after two periods and 5-0-0 when Claude Giroux scores a goal.

Brian Elliott stopped 28 of 30 shots for his fifth win in seven starts.

• The Flyers played an extremely conservative third period, not allowing the Maple Leafs to generate an odd-man rush.

• One of the big advantages for the Flyers was their ability to generate puck possession with their four lines, as the Leafs have been struggling to find secondary scoring behind their top line of Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Zach Hyman.

That trio was a threat from their opening shift and played some major minutes.

• The Leafs came out determined in the opening minute of the second period. They had a 2-on-1 opportunity on the opening shift. Hyman had a clear shot on Elliott that could have been a goal had Shayne Gostisbehere not committed a slash, breaking up the potential scoring chance.

• Robert Hagg was called for holding Nazem Kadri, who lost his edge otherwise I’m not sure that penalty is called. The Flyers were forced to kill off a 5-on-3 for 34 seconds. Credit the Flyers' penalty kill, which has been very good since Ottawa’s flukey power-play goal in the opening minute of that game.

• Leo Komarov had a nasty check on Gostisbehere, extending his arms into the back of Gostisbehere, whose head appeared to snap following the blow into the boards.

Gostisbehere left the game after the second period with an upper-body injury and did not return.

• The Flyers found a weak spot in Frederik Anderson's game. Valtteri Filppula connected on a power-play goal that went top-right over Anderson's glove for a 3-1 lead.

For Filppula, that's his third power-play goal this season, tying him for the team lead with Wayne Simmonds.

Roughly four minutes later, Giroux took a nice cross-ice stretch pass from Jakub Voracek and scored in the same exact spot to extend the Flyers' lead to 4-1.

• Elliott displayed good rebound control throughout most of the game. However, he was unable to cover a rebound in front of him with Toronto’s Connor Brown right there on his doorstep. Brown attracted the attention of both Ivan Provorov and Gostisbehere and once the puck squirted free, Kadri was able to lunge for the puck and put it into a wide-open net.

• Voracek now has a goal in two straight games. On a play that appeared Radko Gudas could have been whistled for interference, Sean Couturier backhanded a pass to Voracek, who blew past Leafs defenseman Morgan Reilly and beat Anderson five-hole.

• Matthews made an impressive play to give Toronto a 1-0 leading, assisting on Kadri's first-period goal. As Gudas stepped up at the blue line, Matthews entered the offensive zone with speed and was easily able to blow around Provorov. He then fed Kadri, who broke into the zone on the opposite side. Because Provorov had shifted to the right side, Scott Laughton was playing back and couldn't change direction fast enough to cover Kadri.

Yes, Gudas shouldn't have stepped up, but credit Matthews and Josh Leivo for making the initial pass.

• With the Leafs breaking in two new players on their fourth line, I thought the Laughton line could create a mismatch. Instead, Leafs coach Mike Babcock elected to utilize his second line against the Flyers' fourth line.

With eight minutes remaining in the opening period, the Flyers executed a perfect offensive-zone entry, as Michael Raffl backhanded a pass to Taylor Leier, who drew a pair of defenders and Laughton finished the play with Brandon Manning scoring off the rush.

• The Flyers had some quality zone entries in the first period, where they were able to skate the puck in and set up their offense as opposed to a dump-and-chase game.

• Couturier committed his first penalty of the season in the first period when he was called for tripping. Couturier held out his arms as to question what he did wrong. It was the Flyers' only penalty in a rather clean opening 20 minutes.

• Travis Konecny made a very risky play in the opening stanza when he reached out with his stick and attempted to go for the steal on Nylander and a potential breakaway. Instead, the highly-skilled Nylander was able to pull the puck back on his stick, skate around Konecny and fire off a quality shot.

Thankfully for the Flyers, Nylander’s shot went high and wide of the net. If it was a game where the Flyers needed to take risks, then I’d fine with Konecny attempting that play, but not in a 1-1 game in the first period.


Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read-Jori Lehtera-Travis Konecny
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas
Brandon Manning-Robert Hagg

Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Nolan Patrick (upper-body injury), Dale Weise (healthy)