Maple Leafs-Flyers Preview
While a point streak has kept the Philadelphia Flyers within striking distance of a top-three spot in their division, that scenario for the Toronto Maple Leafs has become a pipe dream due to a long stretch without one.
The Flyers look to win their sixth game in the last two weeks Tuesday night while handing the visiting Maple Leafs a season high-tying sixth consecutive loss.
Philadelphia is 5-0-1 since Jan. 5 for a season-best point streak that has it with 48 points, right in the mix in the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers' nine-point deficit for the division's third and final playoff spot was trimmed to five in that stretch.
Philadelphia (20-15-8) held the second-worst offense in the league through Jan. 2 with an average of 2.11 goals, ahead of Anaheim's 1.84. The Flyers, though, rank toward the top of the NHL with 3.00 goals per game during their streak while holding opponents to 1.83.
''We've started to string together some consistency,'' said forward Wayne Simmonds, who has two goals and an assist in the last three games.
Simmonds assisted on Claude Giroux's third-period equalizer during Sunday's 2-1 shootout win at Detroit. Giroux and Jakub Voracek scored in the shootout while Michal Neuvirth turned aside two of three chances.
It was Philadelphia's third straight rally from a deficit in the final period.
“It's an important win for our team,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “I've said all the way along, our guys have continued to battle hard for one another.”
Steve Mason figures to be back in net for the Flyers, who are 6-0-2 in their last eight at home. He is 3-0-1 during their point streak with a 1.69 goals-against average and .940 save percentage, including his third shutout in a 4-0 win over the New York Islanders on Jan. 9.
Mason beat the Maple Leafs 1-0 last January before losing 3-2 a month later, Toronto's only win in the last four meetings.
The Maple Leafs (16-20-7) are looking up at the rest of the Atlantic Division with 39 points. Toronto was the lowest-scoring team in the league and the worst defensively during its five-game losing streak, which includes three road losses. The Maple Leafs surrendered an average of 3.80 goals during that stretch while scoring 1.0 per game.
They are 2 for 37 on the power play in their last 10 games, and an inability to score on five chances with the man advantage cost them in Saturday's 3-2 loss at Boston.
“I really thought we had (the puck) moving big time but you got to score,” coach Mike Babcock told the team's official website. “It's great to move it around and get quality chances but you got to find a way to fire the odd one in the net.”
James Reimer will try to pick up his first win in net for the Maple Leafs since Nov. 20. He's since gone 0-5-1 in seven appearances despite a 1.92 GAA and .937 save percentage. Reimer is 2-4-0 with a 2.73 GAA in six career starts against the Flyers.