January 17, 2004
TORONTO (AP) -- The Philadelphia Flyers embarrassed the Toronto Maple Leafs again.
Robert Esche made 35 saves for his second shutout of the season and Michal Handzus scored twice as the Flyers completed a home-and-home series sweep of the Maple Leafs with a 4-0 victory Saturday night.
"Every time Toronto has a break down, we put it into the net," Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock said. "We have a lot of confidence playing against Toronto right now."
The Flyers also beat Toronto 4-1 on Friday night, and have outscored the Maple Leafs 21-3 in their last four meetings.
Todd Fedoruk and Jeremy Roenick also scored for the Flyers, who tied Toronto for the most points in the Eastern Conference (59).
The Flyers eliminated the Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs and have won five straight regular-season games from them.
| The first period was full of big hits. |
(Graig Abel Photography)
"This was a big weekend for our hockey club, especially with the way things have gone recently," said Philadelphia captain Keith Primeau, whose team had a six-game winless streak before playing Toronto.
The game featured several punishing hits, including one that broke the right arm of Flyers defenseman Eric Desjardins. Desjardins is expected to miss at least six weeks after colliding with Roenick in the first period.
Roenick, who returned from a one-game NHL suspension, tried to check Toronto's Mats Sundin along the boards, but hit Desjardins instead. Desjardins, Philadelphia's top defenseman, went down clutching his arm before heading to the dressing room.
"Mats got out of the way at the last second. Eric couldn't get his arm out of the way. It got stuck in between us," Roenick said. "It's unfortunate. It hurts us."
Roenick apologized to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who said earlier this week that Roenick could been issued a three-game suspension for abuse of the officials. Roenick threw a water bottle at referee Blaine Angus after Angus missed a high-sticking infraction that left Roenick with a bloody mouth.
Roenick was critical of the NHL several times during the week.
"When I flapped my mouth as much as I have the last couple of days, it takes a lot out of me physically. I said a lot of things that maybe I shouldn't have," said Roenick, who turned 34 Thursday. "The stuff about Bettman I probably shouldn't have brought up. I apologize for that, but when you are under a lot of scrutiny and you get money taken away from you it's very frustrating."
Roenick lost $91,463.41 for his one-game suspension.
In just over a week, the Maple Leafs have lost to the top three teams in the East -- Ottawa, New Jersey, Philadelphia -- by a combined score of 16-2.
Toronto's Ed Belfour, pulled in the first period Friday after allowing three goals on 12 shots, allowed four on 24 Saturday.
"Eddie didn't have his best two games," Roenick said.
The Maple Leafs' defense let Belfour down.
Defenseman Bryan Marchment allowed Fedoruk to skate from behind the net and put the puck between Belfour's legs at 9:22 of the first.
Bryan McCabe turned the puck over beside the net before Handzus made it 2-0 nine minutes into the second.
"We made errors in our end that you can't do against the top teams," captain Mats Sundin said. "We have to have a better effort against the top teams."
Marcus Ragnarsson's shot from the point on the power play deflected off the boards to Roenick, who put the puck off Belfour's skate at 12:41 of the second. Handzus made it 4-0 on the power play just over two minutes later.
The Maple Leafs have lost four of five.
Game Notes: Roenick, the team's leading scorer, and several of his teammates have had trouble staying out of each other's way lately. During practice on Jan. 7, Roenick was struck in the right cheekbone by a slap shot off Mark Recchi's stick. Roenick needed 26 stitches to close a cut on his face. On Tuesday, Roenick was high-sticked by a teammate during a loss at Buffalo. Flyers defenseman Dennis Seidenberg is expected to be out 10 to 12 weeks after breaking his leg in an accident during practice when Ragnarsson fell on him. ... Toronto forwards Owen Nolan, Alexander Mogilny, Robert Reichel and Wade Belak as well as defensemen Tomas Kaberle and Ken Klee are out with injuries. ... Desjardins has one goal and 11 assists this season.