TORONTO (Reuters) - The Philadelphia Flyers maintained their hold on top spot in the Eastern Conference with 3-2 win over Toronto on Thursday that nudged the Maple Leafs toward the brink of playoff elimination.
Andrej Meszaros, Darroll Powe and Claude Giroux each contributed a goal to Philadelphia’s 42nd win as the Flyers opened up a four-point cushion on the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
While the Flyers have all but clinched a post-season berth the Leafs are sitting six points out of the final two playoff spots, occupied by the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres.
“We played hard but not hard enough,” Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf told reporters. “It’s a playoff type game ... a disappointing loss for sure.”
Toronto dug itself into an early hole when defenseman Mike Komisarek was handed a boarding penalty and game misconduct for what appeared to be an innocent push from behind on Daniel Carcillo, who fell awkwardly into the boards.
The Leafs limited the damage from a five-minute power play with Meszaros’ blast from the point the only puck to get past netminder James Reimer.
Philadelphia doubled their lead in the second when Darroll Powe’s centering pass from the corner deflected into the net off the inside of Reimer’s pad.
With their playoff dreams slipping away, the Leafs pulled one back when Dion Phaneuf’s shot from the point ricocheted in off Mikhail Grabovski’s facemask but Claude Giroux would restore Philadelphia’s two-goal cushion sending them into the intermission with a 3-1 lead.
A power play goal from Joffrey Lupul offered hope to the capacity crowd but the Leafs were unable to complete the rally absorbing their third straight defeat.
“The last month we’ve not been playing the way we should and tonight I think we played a complete 60 minute game,” said Giroux. “The last few games we have focused more on the defensive zone and when you play good defense that’s when you get your chances on offence.”
Editing by Frank Pingue