A big third period rally pushed the Toronto Maple Leafs past the Philadelphia Flyers in the annual Hall of Fame game Friday night.
The Leafs scored four unanswered in the final frame for the 6-3 victory at the Air Canada Centre, including the first this season for Martin Marincin, Zach Hyman and Leo Komarov. Nazem Kadri, Morgan Rielly, and Mitch Marner also scored in the win, Rielly finishing with a career-high four points (one goal, three assists).
Frederik Andersen made 30 saves, the Leafs (6-5-3) rebounding from a 7-0 shellacking three nights earlier.
Wayne Simmonds scored a pair for the Flyers (6-7-2), joined on the scoreboard by Travis Konecny. Steve Mason struggled, yielding six goals on just 23 shots.
Kadri got the first goal of a busy first period, eluding Michael Del Zotto before beating Mason with a deke and goal. It was the seventh already this season for the 26-year-old, a considerable shift from the way last season went — Kadri didn’t get his seventh goal then until his 37th game of the year on Jan. 2.
The Flyers quickly tied it at one just over a minute later, Simmonds redirecting a Claude Giroux shot past Andersen on a power play. Konecny followed up 27 seconds after that with the fourth goal of his impressive rookie season. The 19-year-old from London, Ont., shook off defenceman Connor Carrick for control of a long lofting pass from teammate Radko Gudas and then flipped a backhand over the right pad of Andersen.
With a five-on-three advantage late in the period Toronto tied it on Rielly’s first goal this year. Misfiring on a one-timer seconds before, Rielly slid around one Flyers player in the slot and then whipped a shot far side past Mason.
The 22-year-old led Toronto defenders with a career-high 36 points last season, pacing the group once more with 10 points in 14 games already this year.
Both Mason and Andersen entered the night with sub-.900 save percentages, the former struggling especially in defeat.
Leafs looking to bounce back
Toronto was looking to redeem themselves after a 7-0 blowout loss to the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday night. Head coach Mike Babcock called it an “embarrassing” performance and he likely wouldn’t have been pleased with his team’s second period against the Flyers. They were outshot 13-3 more than 15 minutes into the period while yielding a short-handed goal to Simmonds.
Toronto stood at 37.5 per cent puck possession after 40 minutes.
Lacking much pep offensively, too, Babcock mixed up his line combinations, trying a little bit of everything. Rookie William Nylander, who started the game with Auston Matthews, saw time with both Kadri and Tyler Bozak. Connor Brown, meanwhile, stepped onto a line with Matthews and Hyman.
Matthews entered the night with just one point in his previous seven games.
Third period comeback
The Leafs were full of jump in the third, evening the score at 3-3 just over four minutes into the frame on Marincin’s first this season. He stepped into a point blast on a set-up by Rielly, his third point and second assist of the evening.
All around the net with pressure from the line of Matthews, Brown and Hyman, Toronto jumped in front for good a short while later. Matthews fired a shot off the cross-bar from the slot, Hyman shovelling in the rebound. The 24-year-old offered a big show of emotion after the goal, his first this season and fifth ever in the NHL.
Komarov and Marner added goals to pad the Leafs’ fifth win in seven tries at home this season (5-2-0).
The 2016 Hockey Hall of Fame inductees were honoured before the game, including one-time Leaf Eric Lindros and the late Pat Quinn, who both played for the Leafs and coached them for seven seasons starting in 1998.