Flyers aim for .500 vs. JVR, Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs left winger James van Riemsdyk is congratulated by teammates after scoring against the Buffalo Sabres during the third period of their NHL hockey game, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, in Toronto. (Frank Gunn/AP, The Canadian Press)

For the Flyers, there were two surprises Saturday.

For one, left winger Scott Hartnell returned ahead of schedule.

For another, the Flyers won even though they trailed heading into the final period. They rallied past Winnipeg, 5-3, at the Wells Fargo Center. (See story.)

They had been 0-10 when trailing or tied after the second period.

On Monday, the Flyers (9-10-1) have a chance to get to .500 for the first time this season, hosting James van Riemsdyk and the improved Toronto Maple Leafs (11-8).

Van Riemsdyk, sent to Toronto for defenseman Luke Schenn last summer, has 11 goals. Entering Sunday, that was one goal behind the five players tied for the NHL lead.

“It’s huge,” forward Brayden Schenn said of Monday’s attempt to get to .500. “It feels like we’re one game away and then we hurt ourselves a little bit with a couple [games]. It’s huge for us to be ready for Toronto. They are a good hockey team, playing good hockey. It’s not going to be an easy game.”

The Flyers will be trying to avenge a 5-2 loss Feb. 11 in Toronto. In that game, the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds scored 38 seconds after the opening faceoff, but Toronto took command with three second-period goals in a 4:10 span. Van Riemsdyk had a late goal in that game.

The Flyers, who dropped a 5-2 decision to visiting Florida in their last attempt to get to .500, have won three of their last four games, and Jake Voracek has been the team’s leader. The right winger has 12 points in the last five games _ the hottest stretch for a Flyer since Peter Forsberg in 2005.

Hit parade. Zac Rinaldo is third in the NHL with 70 hits despite playing just 128:03, which is an average of eight minutes per game. That gives him an average of 32.8 hits per 60 minutes played.

Rinaldo had 12 hits, four shots and an empty-net goal in the Flyers’ 5-3 win over Winnipeg on Saturday.


In their 11 losses…

PP: 4-for-44 (9.1 pct.).

PK: 34-for-45 (75.6 pct.).

In their 10 wins…

PP: 13-for-38 (34.2 pct.).

PK: 36-for-40 (90 pct.).

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.