Matthews scores his 55th, Maple Leafs get three goals in the 1st and 3rd periods to beat Flyers 6-2


PHILADELPHIA — Auston Matthews hit the milestones he needed to help Toronto roll to a rout in Philadelphia.

Matthews became the first Toronto player to score at least 55 goals twice in his career and scored 40 even-strength goals for the second time as the Maple Leafs beat the Flyers 6-2 on Thursday night.

Tyler Bertuzzi scored the first of three first-period goals for Toronto that helped chase goalie Samuel Ersson, and the Maple Leafs scored three more in the third period.

The Maple Leafs returned from a four-day break to win their second straight road game — thanks to six players with goals — and put some distance between them and a Flyers team also jostling for a better playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Matthews added his NHL-best 55th goal of the season. He scored a career-best 60 goals in 2021-22, the same season he had 44 even-strength goals.

“We stuck with it, stayed patient and pulled away there toward the end of the third period,” he said.

The Maple Leafs are up to 84 points while the Flyers remained stuck at 76. With 15 games left for the Flyers this season, a team that was considered in the preseason destined for the lottery is instead in the midst of an improbable playoff push.

The Flyers — who at one point had three players without sticks i n the dying moments of a penalty kill — played for the second straight game without suspended head coach John Tortorella.

Tortorella was not behind the bench after receiving a two-game suspension and $50,000 fine for unprofessional conduct directed at officials. He refused to leave the bench after being assessed a game misconduct during Philadelphia’s 7-0 loss at Tampa Bay on Saturday night — the same night the Lightning were honoring the 2004 Stanley Cup champs coached by Tortorella.

Assistants Brad Shaw and Rocky Thompson assumed the head coaching duties against Toronto. Tortorella also sat out Tuesday night’s 3-2 win against San Jose.

“Part of what we have to learn is what’s necessary as far as effort at this time of year to have success,” Shaw said. “Toronto’s got a battle-hardened group that’s been through some hard knocks for the last half-dozen years. We’ve got a lot of guys that still have to learn all that. They have to recognize how hard you have to play to have any chance at this time of year.”

The Flyers endured a miserable first period that saw Bertuzzi score his 13th of the season just 2:01 into the game. Pontus Holmberg beat Ersson on a wrist shot midway through the period for a 2-0 lead.

The Flyers seemingly caught a break when Bertuzzi, recently promoted to Toronto’ first line, had a second goal wiped out on review because of a hand pass. But, Timothy Liljegren scored moments later for a 3-0 lead — on just nine shots for the Maple Leafs.

Ersson was benched to start the second period. Felix Sandstrom let in two goals — to Matthews and William Nylander — just eight seconds apart in the third for a 5-1 Toronto lead. Matthew Knies also scored in the third.

Ilya Samsonov stopped 26 shots.

Owen Tippett and Tyson Foerster scored for the Flyers.

“Especially on home ice, it’s just not good enough,” Flyers center Scott Laughton said. “It’s not hard enough. It’s working together, working smarter. It’s hard at this time of year. It’s hard to win hockey games. Everyone’s trying to get in, everyone’s trying to solidify their spot. We’ve got to realize in this room, we’ve got to make a push here.”

UP NEXT

Maple Leafs: Host Carolina on Saturday.

Flyers: Expect to have Tortorella back for Saturday’s game at Boston. The Flyers have 15 games remaining against an Eastern Conference opponent: eight against the Atlantic and seven against the Metro.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl



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