Randy Carlyle finally saw some of the hockey he's been looking for. Unfortunately, the result remained the same for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The team played a tight-checking game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday night but emerged with a 1-0 loss thanks to a beautiful goal by Claude Giroux in the shootout.
It was the only puck to find the net all night.
Carlyle chose to stick with goaltender Jonas Gustavsson — he's started all four games during Carlyle's coaching tenure — and he responded with a solid 27-save performance. Giroux fooled him with a lovely deke move before lifting the puck into the top of the net.
With the playoff picture slipping from view, Toronto (30-30-8) viewed this is a crucial weekend. They sit six points back of the eighth-place Capitals in the Eastern Conference heading into Sunday's game at Washington.
The Flyers saw their record improve 39-21-7 and still have an outside chance to claim the top seed in the conference.
Ilya Bryzgalov made his 11th straight start in goal for Philadelphia and made 29 saves for his third shutout in the last four games. His biggest save came on a Phil Kessel breakaway in overtime. He also denied the Leafs sniper in the shootout to preserve the victory.
There was plenty of intensity on display in a game that didn't feature much in the way of offensive excitement.
The Leafs didn't direct too much rubber at Bryzgalov through 40 minutes, but the Russian had to be sharp on a couple plays. Bryzgalov briefly looked behind him on an early Clarke MacArthur chance and managed to get his glove on a hard Kessel wrist shot later in the frame.
Gustavsson was steady at the other end. Victimized by a bad goal during a 3-2 loss in Pittsburgh on Wednesday, he stood tall to deny Max Talbot on an excellent short-handed chance in the second period.
Toronto came out firing in the final frame, but couldn't solve Bryzgalov. MacArthur covered his face in frustration after missing a wide-open net while linemate Nikolai Kulemin continued his frustrating season by losing the handle on the puck from in close.
The Leafs continued to show a little more edge under Carlyle, with Joey Crabb making the unwise move to drop the gloves with Wayne Simmonds following a scrum midway through the game. A one-sided decision went to the Flyers forward.