Sundin shines as Leafs square series
TORONTO (CP) - Mats Sundin scored the big goals and Ed Belfour again
outplayed Robert Esche as the Toronto Maple Leafs squared their
second-round NHL playoff series with the Philadelphia Flyers at two
After Simon Gagne's early goal for Philadelphia, Sundin scored the
tying and winning goals and Darcy Tucker added one in a 3-1 Toronto
victory Friday night.
``Even though they got the lead, we battled hard,'' Sundin said. ``We
didn't give up too many outnumbered rushes and the times Eddie was
called upon he made some great saves for us.
``Overall, it was a great team effort again. We're going to need more
of that in Game 5'' Sunday in Philadelphia.
``What it boils down to is now it's a best-of-three,'' said Flyers
captain Keith Primeau. ``That's a predicament we're in and there's
nothing we can do about it now.''
Toronto outshot Philadelphia 31-29 in front of an announced Air
Canada Centre crowd of 19,614.
Sundin missed the last three games of the previous series and the
first game of this one with an unspecified left-side injury and this
was the first time since he got hurt April 14 that he appeared
capable of going all out.
``There's nothing that bothers me now with my skating,'' said Sundin.
He was a wizard with the puck, and he also won 16 of the 22 faceoffs
``He was very good,'' coach Pat Quinn said of Sundin. ``He's inspired
Philadelphia controlled play in the early going and Gagne opened the
scoring at 7:44. Bryan McCabe had the puck on his stick in front of
his own crease, went to pass it out of the zone, and fanned on the
attempt. Gagne, without pausing to say thanks, stepped in and rifled
the loose puck past a helpless Belfour.
A minute later, Belfour kept Philadelphia from taking a two-goal lead
when he dove across his crease to get his stick shaft across the goal-
line in time to block a Primeau shot.
``We looked tight early on, like we were afraid to win, said Quinn.
Sundin tied it at 13:25 when he ripped a shot from the top of the
circle to the right of Esche that caromed off Marcus Ragnarsson and
zoomed past the Flyers goalie.
``Our tying goal was a fortunate bounce,'' said Sundin. ``It went off
(Ragnarsson's) glove or whatever it went off.
``That's playoff hockey. Momentum shifts back and forth.''
Toronto had a chance to seize a lead when the Flyers took three
consecutive penalties. It had a two-man advantage for the closing
minute but missed the net with most of its shots.
The power plays helped the Leafs gain momentum. After being outshot 8-
2 early, they were up 21-13 on the shots counter after Sundin made it
2-1 at 7:45 of the second period.
The six-foot-five Swede used his immense reach to score a picture
goal. He skated with the puck down the right wing, made a 90-degree
left turn in front of defenceman Vladimir Malakhov, pulled the puck
to his backhand as he zipped into the centre of the zone and his low
shot sent the puck slithering between Esche's leg pads as the goalie
did his butterfly drop.
Esche is looking more and more susceptible as the series progresses.
Sundin's 67th and 68th playoff points in a Toronto uniform moved him
past Dave Keon and into second place on the club's all-time list.
Doug Gilmour is first with 77.
Second-period swoons have been a Flyers downfall this spring. They've
outscored opponents 7-1 in first periods in the playoffs but have
been outscored 10-5 during second periods.
Sundin got a breakaway in the last minute of the second period and
lifted a shot that beat Esche. The puck struck the crossbar and went
into the stands.
``Sometimes you have too much time to think,'' said Sundin, who had
clear sailing from the blue-line. ``I saw a lot of net.
``I wish I had that one back. I should have put that one in.''
Tucker made it 3-1 at 2:19 of the third period, one second after an
interference penalty against Ragnarsson expired. McCabe took a long
shot and Tucker deflected it high past Esche.
Alexander Mogilny, a star in Game 3 but less than ordinary in Game 4,
took a roughing penalty with seven minutes remaining, giving the
Flyers their fourth power-play chance. But this was a beaten
Philadelphia team. The Flyers were called for icing as Mogilny
stepped back onto the ice.
There weren't as many thundering body checks as there were in the
previous game, although Toronto continued to do most of the heavy
hitting. The Flyers didn't follow through on their stated intention
to match the Leafs hit for hit.
``You've got to make home ice your place to play,'' said Tucker.
``Anytime you're at home, you want to feed off your fans.
``We withstood (the Flyers') early pressure, got a good bounce and
played more inspired hockey from there on.''
Sundin shrugged off his leadership role.
``It's easy to be a leader on this team,'' he said. ``We have seven
or eight guys who have been captains on their previous clubs and
almost as many guys who have won Stanley Cups with other teams.
``We have a group thing with leadership. We've have a good atmosphere
in the dressing room all year.''
The Flyers were a disgruntled group as they headed for the airport.
``We came into this building and scored two goals (in two games) and
you're not going to beat that hockey club with that kind of
production,'' said Primeau.
Said coach Ken Hitchcock: ``We had a lot of good play by a lot of
people but Toronto defended very well. They spent a lot of time in
their own zone, especially in the third period, but they didn't give
us anything easy. They defended very passionately killing penalties.
I thought the difference in the hockey game was that they were better
defensively over the 60 minutes than we were.''
Home teams have won all four games in the series.
``It's like a tennis match,'' said Tucker. ``Both teams have held
``We've got to go into (Philadelphia) and break serve now. We have to
to win the series.''
Said Quinn: ``We haven't had a lot of luck in their building and we
hope to change that. We'll try to go with a plan that, if we execute
well, will give us a chance to win.''
Notes: Toronto was 0-6 and Philadelphia 0-4 on power plays ... All-
time playoff goaltending win leaders: Patrick Roy 151, Grant Fuhr 92,
Billy Smith 88, Ed Belfour 88 ... With C Joe Nieuwendyk (back) still
unavailable, Toronto used the same lineup as in its 4-1 win in Game
3 ... The Flyers activated D Kim Johnsson, who has a broken bone in
his right hand. LW Todd Fedoruk was deleted to make room ... Flyers C
Michal Handzus hurt his left wrist in the first period and played the
rest of the game with it heavily taped ... Most playoff games since
1993: Detroit 155, Colorado 154, New Jersey 151, Toronto 130.