PHILADELPHIA — Riddick Bowe made the playful jab.
The Flyers delivered the knockout goals that left Toronto reeling.
Vinny Lecavalier, Scott Hartnell, Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds scored goals, leading Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-2 win over the Maple Leafs on Friday night.
The Flyers rebounded after a two-game losing streak muddled their potential playoff seeding as the season winds down.
With two games against Boston and another against St. Louis over the next five games, the Flyers need all the points they can get to stay in contention.
"(It) was a great opportunity for us to get back in the win column,” goalie Steve Mason said. “This was really a four-point night for us, since we get two and the Leafs lose out on two.”
Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk scored 4 seconds into the second, matching an NHL record for fastest goal from the start of the period. But the Maple Leafs’ skid reached seven games.
Lecavalier was dropped from a spot on the wing on the second line to his more natural center on the fourth line. But he also had the spot on the top power-play unit and scored in the first with Philadelphia holding a two-man advantage.
Toronto coach Randy Carlyle might have to learn how to bob and weave. Bowe, the former heavyweight champion and a huge fan, playfully threatened on Twitter to knock out Carlyle with a loss. Bowe tweeted, “One punch between the eyes.” He also predicted Toronto would win 3-2.
Mason had 32 saves to wipe out that pick.
Bowe was seemingly fed up with Toronto’s seven-game losing streak when he took a shot on Thursday at Carlyle.
“If the @MapleLeafs lose tomorrow im going to knock out Randy Carlyle. One punch between the eyes #TMLtalk #Leafs #LeafsNation #BoweLeafsBowe,” he tweeted.
Bowe instantly tweeted after the final horn, “See you in the parking lot Randy ...”
Carlyle was ready.
“I’ll have to get my posse together,” he joked.
Up first, figuring how Toronto can snap a skid that has dropped them out of the playoff race. The Leafs host the Red Wings in a key game on Saturday night.
“There’s no easy ones in the NHL and this one is real tough because of the situation we continue to put ourselves in,” he said. “They’ve proven before that they can play the game at a high level.”
Giroux, fourth in the NHL scoring race, gave the Flyers a 3-1 cushion when he fired a slapper from the circle over Jonathan Bernier’s right shoulder for his 25th goal.
The Flyers needed that insurance when Dave Bolland made it 3-2 not even 2 minutes later.
Simmonds sealed the win with his 25th goal scored off a Toronto turnover.
“We have to refocus right now,” Mason said.
The Flyers got an early boost from Lecavalier after coach Craig Berube decided to shake up the lines. Lecavalier, slumping in the first season of a four-year deal, scored his 16th goal of the season with the Flyers holding the 5-on-3 advantage.
“He’s still really dangerous with that shot,” Giroux said.
Toronto’s Van Riemsdyk tied the game in record-tying time to open the second. His slapper just 4 seconds into the period tied the mark set by Montreal’s Claude Provost on Nov 9, 1957, and Chicago’s Denis Savard on Jan 12, 1986.
The former Flyer was booed in pregame introductions and they got even louder after his 29th goal.
He offered a simple “wow,” when told of his record.
The Flyers’ top line of Giroux, Hartnell and Jakub Voracek was the only one Berube left untouched.
Hartnell snapped a 1-all tie midway through the second with a backhanded tip off Kimmo Timonen’s shot for his 20th goal.
“I think the goalie was screened a little bit and the puck was able to slide past him,” Hartnell said.
Notes: The Flyers had lost four of five to Toronto and avoided the first three-game losing streak against them since 2007-08. ... Lecavalier scored his 399th career goal.