TORONTO - Huddled in the bowels beneath the Air Canada Centre, there was some lively chatter in the Flyers' dressing room during the second intermission.
Exactly 24 hours after coughing up a 4-1 lead in vomit-inducing fashion in the final 13 minutes in front of their home crowd, the Flyers entered the final frame with a shot at redemption with the identical score against the Maple Leafs.
This time, they were up against a Toronto team that had just erased the same score against Washington in a span of 3 minutes on Monday night.
Peter Laviolette said his team wanted to atone for its still-fresh, third-period sins.
What he got in the third period was a businesslike effort that matched the environment of the building, the only arena in the NHL where it is still fashionable to wear a suit - just like it was in the 1940s.
But for the second night in a row, Laviolette was forced to call a timeout in the third period.
Only this time, it was to give his top players a rest after keeping Toronto at bay, as the Flyers hung on for the 4-1 victory thanks to an impeccable, 31-save performance by Brian Boucher. With the win, the Flyers are 6-1-3 in their last 10 games - running off a streak with just three regulation losses in their last 22 games.
"I think what happened [on Wednesday] was still very fresh in our minds," Chris Pronger said. "We needed to straighten ourselves out, that's for sure."
"I was real happy with the way we responded," Laviolette said. "I think, overall, we were pretty good defensively, we were pretty good on the attack and we came out skating right away."
Aside from Danny Briere's two goals - which catapulted him up to fifth in the NHL with a total of 16 - Boucher was the story for much of the game. A bang-bang Maple Leafs passing play that resulted in a goal for Mikhail Grabovski was Boucher's only blemish, as that kept him from posting the Flyers' first shutout of the season.
Flyers goalie coach Jeff Reese called it Boucher's best performance of the season - which is no joke for a track record that has included nothing worse than a one-goal defeat.
"I thought that he completely controlled the game out there," Laviolette said. "He was probably the best player on the ice. The way he handled the puck and the rebounds, it just seemed like he was in complete charge. And he's been good, he's been good for a while now.
"I was happy to see him in here to get us back on track."
Boucher is now the proud owner of a 6-1-2 record against Toronto in his career, with a stellar 1.65 goals against-average. Boucher took advantage of his first starting nod since Nov. 27, giving rookie Sergei Bobrovsky a rest after four straight starts.
As a backup, Boucher said he normally has back-to-back contests circled on his calendar as a possible start - it's a way for him to keep himself prepared during the long layoffs between starts.
"I felt really good," Boucher said. "It's one of those things that if you know what your role is, you kind of prepare, you look at the schedule . . . you just prepare to get ready for those games. To me, it's not really an issue if you sit for 10 games or if you sit three games."
Ville Leino and Pronger also chipped in on the goal support for Boucher, which is something that he had been missing in his previous starts. The Flyers had scored just 20 goals in his first eight appearances (2.50 goals per game), compared to 79 for Bobrovsky in his 22 showings (3.6 goals per game).
"He's been around for a long time," Laviolette said. "I'm sure that there's a lot of situations that he's been in in his career. He's a good professional, he responds to all different types of situations. You've got to give him credit for that. He keeps himself in shape. He's a good teammate, I've always said that about him. He really did a job [last night]."
The Flyers also did a solid job of staying away from the penalty box in the third period, allowing Toronto to head there twice and kill any momentum it had built up. After spending 8 minutes in the box in the third period on Wednesday, the Flyers didn't commit a penalty in the final frame, and committed only four all night.
"That's what we talked about, that little hiccup [Wednesday] night," Briere said. "It was a chance for a little bit of redemption, we wanted to shut the game down and not give them too much. I thought we did a good job. It was definitely a step in the right direction."
Flyers defenseman Matt Walker and his wife Kate welcomed the couple's first child to the world yesterday. Georgia Isabel Walker was born at Pennsylvania Hospital at 5:32 a.m. Both Kate and Georgia are doing well. Walker is not far from being healthy enough to return to the lineup. Walker, acquired for Simon Gagne in July, has not played in a game yet this season because of a boney impingement in his hip that was surgically repaired on Oct. 20.
Danny Briere also picked up an assist on Chris Pronger's goal for a three-point night. He now has 36 points in 33 career games against Toronto, even though he didn't grow up with any animosity for Ontario's team as a Quebecor . . . One night after being blown-out on faceoffs by San Jose (just 37 percent), the Flyers had their single best faceoff night (68 percent) since Nov. 26, 2005. Jeff Carter won 13 of his 14 draws . . . The Flyers had just nine hits, a low since Oct. 30 . . . Matt Carle (four games) and Ville Leino (three games) both improved their point streaks.
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