After an impressive victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Toronto Maple Leafs hope to enter their Christmas break with a repeat performance against the visiting Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday afternoon.
The matinee completes a two-game homestand for the Maple Leafs, who start a three-game road trip Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues.
Toronto had a 40-19 advantage in shots on goal in defeating Tampa Bay 4-1 Tuesday.
The Flyers, who defeated the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3 Tuesday, visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday. They will take a holiday break before resuming their stretch of five straight road games Dec. 29 against the San Jose Sharks.
The Flyers had two goals each from Travis Konecny and Owen Tippett on Tuesday.
As for the Maple Leafs, they rebounded from two consecutive road losses with their win over the Lightning.
“I thought our guys played really well,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “It’s an important game against a good team. We were a little tentative early in the third but then we found our legs and were fine. We were pretty darn good.”
“We were always in the right spots, both defensively and offensively,” Maple Leafs goaltender Matt Murray said. “That allowed us to keep the puck a lot and get it back pretty quickly. We did a lot of things really well.”
Michael Bunting, who scored Toronto’s first goal, picked up a roughing penalty at the end of the first period and was aggressively pushed off the ice by linesman Dan Kelly.
“I played against [Kelly] in the minors,” Bunting said. “No history there. … It’s hockey, you move on from it.”
The goal gave Bunting his 100th career NHL point.
Calle Jarnkrok returned from a groin injury and earned an assist in his 600th career NHL game.
Toronto defenceman Rasmus Sandin left the game late in the second period with a neck injury that was to be re-evaluated Wednesday.
“It was more precautionary than anything,” Keefe said.
Toronto defeated Philadelphia 5-2 Nov. 2 at home.
In Philadelphia on Tuesday, Konecny’s two goals gave him a team-leading 14 for the season.
“A lot of that just comes from playing with guys that are making the right plays that are coming to me,” Konecny said. “Over the course of the year, all the guys I’ve been playing with are giving me the puck and doing the right things and the bounces are just going in for me right now.”
One of his goals came while the Flyers were killing a penalty.
“I just think he’s so good,” Flyers coach John Tortorella said of Konecny. “I had Cam [Atkinson] for six years [in Columbus], and he and Cam are very similar. They anticipate so very well as a penalty killer. That’s why they end up with scoring chances in those types of situations.”
Since returning from a broken finger on Dec. 7, Flyers left winger James van Riemsdyk – formerly of the Maple Leafs – has played on a line with centre Morgan Frost and right winger Tippett.
Frost added a goal to Tippett’s pair and van Riemsdyk had an assist.
“It’s always nice when you can stick with the same guys and kind of build chemistry,” Tippett said. “I think I was saying to Frosty actually [Tuesday], it’s nice just kind of knowing where guys are going to be all the time and know where your outs are when you’re in danger.”