The Philadelphia Flyers closed out 2007 on a positive note, winning three straight to end the calendar year. Their start to 2008, however, left plenty of room for improvement.
The Flyers will try to rebound from their first shutout in two months as they continue a six-game road trip Saturday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Philadelphia (19-15-4) came into Friday's game against New Jersey having scored 3.08 goals per game, good for third in the league. But the Flyers were shut out 3-0 by Martin Brodeur, who earned his 13th win in 15 games against Philadelphia.
"It's disappointing," said Flyers goalie Martin Biron, who made 23 saves. "We felt like we handed them a couple of goals."
The frustration spilled over for the Flyers when defenseman Derian Hatcher apparently bit a finger on Travis Zajac's left hand during a second-period scrum. Philadelphia has already had five players suspended this season for illegal on-ice conduct, and pending a review of the footage, Hatcher could be the sixth.
The Flyers defeated the Maple Leafs to start their three-game winning streak to end 2007, a 4-1 victory on Dec. 27 in the first meeting between the teams.
Joffrey Lupul scored two goals in that contest, including a power-play tally, and he's been the Flyers' best scoring threat of late. He has 10 goals and eight assists in the team's past 11 games.
Philadelphia has thrived on the power play -- converting 22.3 percent of its chances -- but has gone 0-for-10 with the man advantage its last two games. The Flyers have yet to go three straight games without a power-play tally, but are facing a Maple Leafs team that is killing off just 80.3 percent of its penalties, putting Toronto in the bottom third of the league.
Toronto (16-17-8) is 2-5-2 over its last nine games with just one regulation win in that span. The Leafs have lost four games by at least three goals during their skid.
They have had defensive lapses all season, and those mistakes have been more glaring in the team's past five games. Toronto has allowed 23 goals in going 1-3-1 since Dec. 26, and is trying to bounce back from a 6-2 loss Wednesday at Pittsburgh.
Toronto only trailed 2-1 entering the third, but the Penguins scored three goals in 48 seconds near the beginning of the final period.
"An outburst like that shouldn't happen," defenseman Hal Gill said. "We were controlling the tempo but then we slacked off and they got comfortable and they got the momentum."
Not only have the Maple Leafs had trouble stopping teams during their recent struggles, they've had problems scoring as well. They've been outscored 33-16 in their past nine games.
Nik Antropov, the team's second-leading scorer with 15 goals and 35 points, has been held without a point in eight straight games and doesn't have a goal in his last 10.
Mats Sundin -- Toronto's leading scorer with 18 goals -- has five goals and four assists in a seven-game points streak against the Flyers.
Toronto had won eight of the previous nine games between the teams before Philadelphia's victory on Dec. 27.