88 problems – Leafs cough up another lead

On a night when Hall of Fame legend Eric Lindros had his number 88 retired by the Flyers, the Maple Leafs also turned back the clock, although not in a ceremonial, nostalgic way.

For the second time in four games, Toronto failed to protect a two-goal lead and wound up losing in overtime. Thursday night’s outing at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia was a 3-2 decision in favour of the home side.

Sean Couturier scored the game-winner after he was left uncovered by Jake Gardiner. The Leafs defenceman erred in the coverage, skating towards puck carrier Travis Konecny who was already being watched by William Nylander. That left Couturier wide open to receive the pass and fire the puck past Frederik Andersen for the win.

The defeat should come as no surprise to fans who have followed the Leafs over the past 15 months. As per TSN’s Kristen Shilton, last year Toronto blew two-goal leads on eleven occasions last year, allowing the opposing team to get either one or two points.

In the second period, the Leafs were staked to a seemingly comfortable lead. Connor Brown scored the opening goal of the game on a breakaway, for the second time in as many games. Frederik Gauthier replied 28 seconds later with his first goal of the season to give his team a two-goal cushion heading into the final twenty minutes.

But first-round, second-overall 2017 draft pick Nolan Patrick stripped Mitch Marner off the puck and beat Andersen for an early third period goal to start the Flyers’ comeback. Less than two minutes later, Wayne Simmonds converted on a 2-on-1, a shorthanded goal, to even the score.

Couturier’s overtime goal extended the Leafs’ losing streak to four games. In each of those outings, Toronto has surrendered either the tying goal or winning goal in the third period.

“We’ve got to regroup, we’ve got to figure out who wants to commit to playing as a team,” a frustrated Andersen told reporters after the game.