TORONTO - After starting four straight games - and six of the last seven - Flyers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky was given a rest Thursday night against Toronto and replaced with Brian Boucher.
Boucher has quietly been effective in a backup role, posting a 2.57 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage in eight games before Thursday.
"Every time he's been in there, he's done a good job," coach Peter Laviolette said before the game. "He's given us an opportunity to win. It'd be nice to put some runs up on the board for him, but he's played well, especially lately."
Bobrovsky (14-4-3) has lost his last four starts against teams with winning records. He figures to return to the lineup Saturday, when the Flyers play in Boston for the first time since their Game 7 win in last season's remarkable conference semifinals. The Flyers became the fourth team in any sport to win a series after losing the first three games.
Entering Thursday, Bobrovsky was tied for third in the NHL with his 14 wins, and he was tied for seventh in goals-against average (2.29) and save percentage (.922).
Boucher, whose status will be up in the air when Michael Leighton returns from a rehab stint with the AHL Phantoms, made his first start Thursday since dropping a 2-1, shoot-out loss to New Jersey on Nov. 27.
The Flyers blew a 4-1, third-period lead and lost to visiting San Jose, 5-4, in a shoot-out on Wednesday.
How rare was the meltdown?
The Flyers had won 232 consecutive regular-season home games in which they led by three or more goals in the third period, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Before Wednesday, the last time they lost in such a circumstance was on Nov. 21, 1987, when they lost to the Islanders, 6-4, after coughing up a 4-1 lead.
Carcillo sits again
Dan Carcillo is ready to play, but he was a healthy scratch Thursday. The feisty winger hasn't played since spraining his left knee against Ottawa on Nov. 15.
"If he goes in, someone's got to come out - and I'm just not ready to make that move tonight," Laviolette said before the opening face-off. "Things change on a daily basis, and we need to get a win tonight. All hands on deck. But I think you evaluate things day-to-day."
The Flyers entered the game with a league-high 99 goals. In their first 29 games, the Flyers were tied for 13th in the 30-team NHL on the penalty kill (83 percent success rate) and tied for 16th on the power play (16 percent). . . . In the teams' Oct. 23 meeting, the Flyers outshot the Leafs, 40-14, en route to a 5-2 win. - Sam Carchidi