TORONTO (Ticker) -- What a difference a season makes.
After scoring just five goals in four games against the Toronto Maple Leafs last season, the Philadelphia Flyers erupted for seven, including two by Sami Kapanen, to record a 7-1 rout.
The Flyers were blanked in their first two meetings with Toronto in 2002-03 before registering 2-1 and 3-1 victories to even the season series. In this one, Philadelphia had little trouble solving Ed Belfour, opening a comfortable first-period lead with three goals on four shots in a 3:24 span.
Kapanen made it 4-0 six minutes into the second with his first goal of the season and Tony Amonte added a power-play tally midway through the period. Kapanen completed his first multi-goal game as a Flyer at 5:48 of the third before Jeremy Roenick capped the scoring with a power-play goal.
Matt Stajan works past Kim Johnsson Saturday night. (Graig Abel Photography)
Defenceman Kim Johnsson and Justin Williams each had a goal and an assist for Philadelphia, which snapped a three-game road losing streak.
"We sensed that we frustrated them a little bit tonight," Williams said. "We had some turnovers that we really capitalized on. We pushed them and caused turnovers, and we did it for most of the night."
Darcy Tucker scored seven minutes into the second period to spoil the shutout bid of Robert Esche, who turned aside 21 shots for his third straight win.
"He's played three solid in a row, and this is quite an environment," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "He's a lot more mature now, and if the mental catches up to the physical, he's got a chance to be a great goalie. He's really starting to grow."
The Flyers set the tone early as Michal Handzus got a feed from Williams alone in front of the net and put a shot off the left goalpost. After the puck trickled under Belfour and to the right of the crease, Handzus lifted a backhander over the fallen goalie at 4:25 for his fifth goal.
Just 97 seconds later, Claude Lapointe won a faceoff in the Toronto zone and drew the puck back to Johnsson, whose slap shot from above the left circle beat Belfour to the glove side. The assist was the 300th NHL point for Lapointe.
The Maple Leafs found themselves in a 3-0 hole 1:47 later.
Gary Roberts' clearing attempt was kept in the zone by John LeClair. Handzus tipped the puck to Williams, who raced in untouched and backhanded it past Belfour's stick side for his third tally.
"We didn't get the puck out of our zone," Toronto defenceman Ken Klee said. "All 20 guys weren't good enough on the little things. They are a team that thrives on turnovers."
Rookie defenceman Joni Pitkanen set up Philadelphia's fourth goal, carrying in from the left point and faking a slapper before wristing a shot toward the net. Belfour made the stop with his blocker, but Kapanen whacked the puck out of the air and into the net at 6:09 of the second.
"We closed it to 3-1 and then we gave up a cheap goal and then it was over," Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn said.
Toronto defenceman Bryan McCabe notched his 100th NHL point 57 seconds later when he set up Tucker's power-play goal. But Amonte led a 2-on-1 before pulling up in the right circle and firing a shot past Belfour at 10:29 for a 5-1 cushion.
The Flyers gave Toronto a chance to get back in the game late in the second, but the Maple Leafs were unable to cash in during an 85-second 5-on-3 power play.
"That was a big turning point," Hitchcock said. "We've struggled killing penalties on 5-on-3s and getting out of that was big."
"It was effort but not much thinking," Quinn said. "The harder we tried, the more mistakes we made."
Kapanen scored on a wrist shot early in the third and Roenick pounced on the rebound of a deflection by Mark Recchi with 1:52 remaining to finish the rout and hand Toronto its third straight loss.
"Recchi made a great tip," Roenick said. "I almost missed it.