February 26, 2015
TORONTO — In their first game without the traded David Clarkson, Jonathan Bernier made 47 saves and Toronto Maple Leafs earned a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.
The win came mere hours after the Leafs dealt Clarkson to the Columbus Blue Jackets for injured winger Nathan Horton.
Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak and Dion Phaneuf scored for Toronto.
Claude Giroux and Brayden Schenn scored third-period goals for Philadelphia.
The Flyers, who blew another opportunity to pick up points as they remain on the edge of the playoff race, outshot the Leafs 49-17. But Kessel and Bozak scored on point-blank rushes to chase starting goaltender Rob Zepp. Steve Mason, fresh off a two-week absence for knee surgery, replaced Zepp after two goals on eight shots.
Mason was barely tested in his first action since Feb. 8 and gave up a power-play goal to Phaneuf early in the third period. It was Phaneuf's first game back after missing a month with a hand injury.
The Flyers dominated play and got third-period power-play goals from Giroux and Schenn to make it interesting. But they still lost their second straight game to a team in the race for likely No. 1 draft pick Connor McDavid, not playoff contention.
As Monday's trade deadline approaches, no one is untouchable for the struggling Maple Leafs, except for maybe for young defenseman Morgan Rielly. General manager Dave Nonis showed that by trading Clarkson and his lengthy contract that had five more years.
If Bernier plays as consistently as he did in beating the Flyers, the 26-year-old goaltender could also be untouchable. Bernier is a restricted free agent this summer and with the Leafs set to rebuild it's unclear how he fits into their long-term plans.
Bernier has not played as well in his second season in Toronto as he did in 2013-14, when he had a .923 save percentage. Playing the most games of his young career, Bernier was derailed by injuries late and the Leafs collapsed to miss the playoffs.
Bernier has shown flashes of being an elite starter, most notably a 31-save shootout loss in Montreal on Valentine's Day and then Thursday night's gem against Philadelphia.
• St. Louis Blues senior adviser to the general manager Martin Brodeur was among those in attendance for the Leafs-Flyers game.
• Zach Sill, acquired Wednesday from the Pittsburgh Penguins as part of the Daniel Winnik trade, made his Leafs debut.