The gauntlet technically started last Thursday in Florida, a 10-game stretch that featured nine against playoff teams. The Flyers picked up a dramatic win in the final minute against the Florida Panthers that night, a statement on the start of that stretch. Their next game couldn't be more different. A disastrous start, allowing four goals in the first 11 minutes, kicked off the team's worst loss of the season, a 7-0 drubbing to the Lightning.

This Thursday's game started a seven-game stretch against all playoff teams, as the Flyers faced the Toronto Maple Leafs. It started a lot like the Tampa game, but the temperature cooled in the middle period and left the Flyers with a chance to get back into things. Then in an eight-second span, any thought of a comeback was officially dashed and turned the game into another laugher.

The Leafs scored three goals in the first and three more in the third to secure a 6-2 victory over the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center.

It didn't take long for the Leafs to get on the board. Just 2:01 into the game, a quick passing play resulted in Auston Matthews finding Tyler Bertuzzi for the tip-in from the front of the crease, making it 1-0 on Bertuzzi's 13th of the season.

At 9:57, the Leafs extended the lead to two. Off a face-off, the puck bounced back into the slot off Morgan Frost and right onto the stick of Pontus Holmberg, who fired it home for his fourth goal of the season to make it 2-0.

The Leafs appeared to add to the lead at the 12:55 mark, as Bertuzzi deflected a shot from distance past Sam Ersson. The Flyers challenged for a missed stoppage and it was determined there was a hand pass on the play, taking the goal off the board.

Toronto still eventually made it 3-0 with a goal at 15:39. Off a rush, Timothy Liljegren fired from distance and beat Ersson for his third goal of the season.

Through 20 minutes, shots were even, 12-12. Ersson's night was done after the opening period, allowing three goals on 12 shots.

Early in the second, the Flyers took advantage of a power play. Frost took a shot that bounced off the end boards and came back out to Owen Tippett, who buried it for his 24th goal of the season to cut the lead to 3-1 at 1:42.

That was the only offense of the second period, as the Flyers out-shot the Leafs, 8-7, to take a 20-19 lead after 40 minutes.

The Flyers were never able to come close to erasing the two-goal deficit. In an eight-second span, the Leafs added two goals and put the game out of reach.

First, Matthews was left all alone to walk down the slot and fire a shot past Felix Sandstrom at 4:45. Eight seconds later at 4:53, William Nylander added a goal to make it 5-1.

The Leafs got another goal just after a power play expired from Matthew Knies at the nine-minute mark, with three Flyers trying to defend without sticks.

Tyson Foerster scored a shorthanded goal with 1:32 to play to cap the scoring. It was his 17th goal of the season and the team's 15th shorthanded goal of the season.

Ilya Samsonov finished the game with 26 saves on 28 shots. Sandstrom stopped 12 of 15 shots in relief.

Five of the goal-scorers for Toronto – Matthews, Nylander, Holmberg, Bertuzzi, and Liljegren – added an assist as well for two-point games.

The Flyers are back in action on Saturday night, as they get on the road to face the Boston Bruins at 7 p.m.

Box Score

Maple Leafs3036

Scoring Summary

1st Period

  • TOR Tyler Bertuzzi (13) (Auston Matthews, William Nylander) 2:01
  • TOR Pontus Holmberg (4) (Connor Dewar, Morgan Rielly) 9:57
  • TOR Timothy Liljegren (3) (Bertuzzi, Ilya Samsonov) 15:39

2nd Period

  • PHI Owen Tippett (24) PP (Morgan Frost, Travis Konecny) 1:42

3rd Period

  • TOR Matthews (55) (Holmberg, Ilya Lyubushkin) 4:45
  • TOR Nylander (35) (Max Domi, David Kampf) 4:53
  • TOR Matthew Knies (12) (Jake McCabe, Liljegren) 9:00
  • PHI Tyson Foerster (17) SH (Travis Sanheim, Sean Couturier) 18:28

Game Statistics

Maple LeafsFlyers
Power Play0/41/3
Faceoff %56%44%
Blocked Shots1218
Penalty Minutes1618

Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN. Follow him on social media @Kevin_Durso.

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