Daniel Briere scored the game-tying goal and the eventual shootout winner to help the Philadelphia Flyers come back and beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3.
Tied at one goal apiece in the shootout, Briere came in slowly on goalie J.S. Giguere, made some quick moves with his stick down low, before finally deking out the Leafs netminder and finishing with a backhand.
Needing a goal to extend the shootout, Phil Kessel tried go above the glove on Brian Boucher –who replaced Michael Leighton in the shootout –but the Flyers goaltender caught a piece of it to preserve the win.
Newly-acquired Nikolai Zherdev scored his first two goals in a Flyers uniform, finding some chemistry with teammate Claude Giroux, who assisted on both of the Russian’s tallies.
Leafs fans were treated with an early look at the probable regular season first-line –Kris Versteeg, Tyler Bozak, and Phil Kessel –and they did not disappoint, factoring in on all three of Toronto’s goals in the loss.
But the heroics of the talented trio were undone by the flashiness and speed of both Zherdev and Briere.
Down 3-1 in with five minutes to play, Zherdev potted his second of the game by deflecting in a Giroux feed to cut the lead to one.
Just over a minute later, Briere tied it up when he deflected in a point shot for his first of the pre-season.
Philadelphia carried the momentum into overtime, but it was Toronto with the best chance in the extra frame.
After Bozak stole the puck outside the blue line, Kessel, seeing the advantage, streaked down the left side of the ice towards the net. Bozak fed a chest-high pass on the 2-on-2 rush, and Kessel tried batting the puck to his stick for a mid-air swing, but instead knocked it in with his glove.
It was called no goal, and despite protests from the Leafs, could not argue the call, as there is no video review in the pre-season.
The furious finish outshone what was a good performance from Toronto’s top line. Versteeg had a goal and assist, while Kessel potted his second goal of the pre-season.
Dion Phaneuf –who was paired with Tomas Kaberle for much of the night –went trigger happy in this one, shooting a game-high eight shots and being rewarded with his first as Leaf’s captain.
After a scoreless first period, Toronto opened the scoring int the second on the power play.
Phaneuf unleashed a blast from the point that Leighton couldn’t absorb. The rebound found the stick of Bozak in front of the net, and he quickly passed the puck behind his back to a wide open Versteeg, who backhanded it into a empty cage for his first ever goal in a Leafs uniform.
Just over a minute later, Kessel made it 2-0 when he shoveled in a loose puck in front of the net that Leighton couldn’t cover up. Orr and Primeau picked up assists on the play, rounding out an odd trio for the game’s second goal and a 2-0 lead heading into the final frame.
It didn’t take long for the Flyers to regroup, though. Less than two minutes into the third period, Giroux hit a streaking Zherdev on a 2-on-1, and the Russian made no mistake, beating a down-and-out Giguere to cut the lead to one.
Phaneuf got the goal back on another power play, taking an off-speed shot that found its way to the back of the net with just over five minutes to play. The Leafs power play finished 2-for-4.
Giguere had a strong game in net for the Leafs, making 29 saves, but seemed to fade towards the end of the game.
His counterpart, Michael Leighton, made 31 stops of his own, but was pulled in favour of a fresh Boucher for the shootout.
It proved to be the right decision as the 33-year-old shut the door, allowing just a Kulemin goal in the shootout.