PHILADELPHIA – Mike Richards raised his arms in celebration after his first-period goal, and cracked a slight smile.
It was about time for him.
The Philadelphia captain scored his first goal of the season and had two assists to help the Flyers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Ville Leino, Blair Betts, Scott Hartnell and Danny Briere also scored for Philadelphia, which outshot Toronto 40-15.
“I don’t think anyone was too worried about (Richards) getting his points,” Briere said. “We all knew it was just a matter of time for Mike Richards to turn it on. Sometimes, you need a lucky bounce. We did a lot of good things, and it was good to see some goals go in for us.”
The Flyers scored twice in the closing minutes of the first period. Richards began the attack by intercepting Francois Beauchemin’s clearing attempt, then fired a shot over defenceman Dion Phaneuf’s stick and past goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Nearly two minutes later, Leino arrived in traffic and trickled a shot into the net.
“When you’re in a situation where you’re team is facing that adversity, you need your leaders and top players to step up and have a good game,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said.
Toronto’s Phil Kessel and Clarke MacArthur each scored their sixth goals of the season. Of the Leafs’ 20 goals, 12 have been scored by that tandem. MacArthur’s goal brought the Leafs within one with 1:14 left in the second period.
Philadelphia took over in the third. Hartnell took Richards’ cross-ice pass and rifled a one-timer past Giguere at 1:05, and a Briere scored off a wrist shot from the faceoff circle to give the Flyers a three- goal advantage.
“We turned the pucks over in the offensive zone, 2-on-1s, and they buried us in the third period,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. “It’s inexcusable. Some nights on the road you have to bend not break, and they broke us early in the third.”
While Philadelphia’s offence came alive, the defence was relentless in holding Toronto to 15 shots, one more than the Leafs’ season low. Brian Boucher had an easier night, as his defencemen blocked a number of shots before they got to him.
“We knew the last couple of games, we didn’t play really well, and we knew we had to come out hard and play our game and get back on track,” Kimmo Timonen said. “For the most part, we did that today.”
Giguere suffered his first loss of the season after going 3-0-1 with a 1.96 goals-against average.
“It was a bad night personally and team wise,” Phaneuf said. “We didn’t play well and I wasn’t good. Just look at the scoreboard and look at the shots for them and there is not much more to say.”
The Flyers, who evened their record at 3-3-1 after losing three straight at home, felt they needed a win on Saturday.
“It was huge for our defence,” Richard said. They’ve done a great job of getting in the way of shots. I think we played with a lot of desperation tonight. There was a sense in the locker-room that everyone wanted to play tonight.”
NOTES: Philadelphia went 3-1 against the Leafs last season, and hasn’t lost to them at home since March 12, 2008. … Briere has a team-leading five goals in his first seven games. … MacArthur’s goal was the 50th of his career. … The Flyers scored a power-play goal, but continued to struggle in that department. They went 1 for 5 on Saturday, and have scored three times in 32 chances. with just two goals in 27 chances.