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Lupul's OT goal lifts Leafs over Flyers

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 8, 2014 at 11:03 pm •  Published: March 8, 2014

TORONTO (AP) — Nazem Kadri and the Toronto Maple Leafs view the first period as the most important 20 minutes of the game.

That worked out well against the Philadelphia Flyers, even though a poor third period nearly wrecked the game for Toronto.

The Maple Leafs blew two leads after the second intermission but managed to rebound and beat the Flyers 4-3 in overtime on Saturday night.

"It feels good," said Joffrey Lupul, who scored 2:21 into overtime. "We don't want to make a habit of blowing third-period leads. Things are going to happen, other teams are going to make plays, and we stuck with it.

"There was a good feeling on our bench going into overtime. It seemed like everyone had their composure and were calm, and we got the result we needed."

The result was the Maple Leafs' second straight overtime victory but also the fourth game in five since the Olympic break in which they squandered at least one third-period lead.

Toronto had a two-goal edge 3:38 into the first against the Flyers on goals by Jake Gardiner and Kadri, but that slipped away after Philadelphia defenseman Kimmo Timonen scored twice.

Mason Raymond's go-ahead goal later in the third was then erased when Braydon Coburn beat Jonathan Bernier with plenty of traffic in front. That was the sixth time the Leafs gave up a lead in the final period of regulation in the past five games.

Gardiner called it "a little bit of a collapse defensively," and it was hard for his teammates to disagree given this disturbing trend.

"That's a little bit of a concern, but that's not something that's drawing our complete attention," Kadri said. "Our D-zone could be a little tighter, but that's something we've got to work on."

Toronto improved to 76 points, good for third place in the Atlantic Division. They are three points ahead of the Flyers.

"That's really what we focus on. We show character to stay in games," Kadri said. "Even though it's a little bit deflating at times giving up a couple-goal leads in the third period, especially late to force overtime. We stayed positive and came out with the right outcome."

Toronto coach Randy Carlyle had his issues with his team's performance. He thought players stopped skating at the end of the second period, and several stayed on the ice for shifts that were too long.

But he was pleased how the club responded after Coburn got the Flyers even with 2:32 left.

"A lot of times when the game gets away from you, your team goes and continues to spiral," Carlyle said. "Well we didn't spiral, in my mind. Maybe if I rewatch it again I'll have a different opinion, but it didn't seem like we were under siege in the third."

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