March 18, 2004
@ PHI: Scoring | Stats
Defence Pairings: McCabe-Berg, Leetch-Klee, Johansson-Marchment
Goalies: Belfour (W 59:51, 26 SV, 2 GA), Kidd (0:00)
Injuries: Tucker (leg muscle pull), Wilm (groin), Renberg (hamstring strain)
Healthy scratches: Stajan, Pilar, Kilger, Perrott, Kaberle
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs found the key to beating the Philadelphia Flyers: Brian Leetch.
Leetch scored his first two goals with his new team, lifting the Maple Leafs to a 3-2 victory Thursday night.
Ed Belfour made 26 saves, and Gary Roberts added a goal for Toronto, which had lost five straight against Philadelphia.
"(Leetch) has been around long enough to know that (scoring goals) is not the most important job a defenseman does," Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. "But, when you have skill like him, you're going to get some."
Leetch, acquired March 3 from the New York Rangers, scored his 25th and 26th career goals against the Flyers -- his most against any franchise in his 17 NHL seasons. He also assisted on Roberts' first-period goal and helped the Maple Leafs end a losing streak against Philadelphia that dated to last season's first-round playoff exit.
|The Leafs played a strong defensive game.|
The Flyers outscored the Maple Leafs 15-2 in three wins this season. Belfour surrendered 14 of those goals and was pulled after only 11 minutes in a 4-1 loss on Jan. 16.
But Belfour played well this time, carrying a shutout into the third period and stopping several shots in the final minute to preserve the victory.
"Besides taking too many penalties, I think five-on-five, we were much better," said Leetch, who has 11 points in eight games with Toronto. "We had fewer chances against and got the lead."
John LeClair and Kim Johnsson scored for the Flyers, who had been unbeaten in their past four games.
Toronto took a 1-0 lead with 4:07 left in the first period on a short-handed breakaway by Roberts. With the Flyers on a five-on-three power play, a blocked shot by Leetch slid to Mats Sundin just as Roberts emerged from the penalty box.
Roberts broke free and lifted a backhander over Robert Esche for his first short-handed goal of the season.
"I thought the goal that really hurt us was that first goal," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said. "When you have a five-on-three back-to-back and you don't score and then get scored on, it takes a lot of wind from your sail."
Leetch made it 2-0 during a two-man advantage early in the second period with a low slap shot that beat Esche. He was screened on the play by Roberts.
Belfour preserved the lead with several tough saves in the second period, twice stopping Sami Kapanen and stoning Mattias Timander on a 7-foot wrist shot.
Leetch added his second goal 4:01 into the third with a slap shot from just inside the blue line that Esche badly misplayed.
"It's one you have to stop, but I can't dwell on it," said Esche, who made just 11 saves in losing for the first time in his last six starts.
With Esche pulled for an extra attacker, LeClair rammed home a rebound on a power play for his 22nd goal. Johnsson took a pass from Mark Recchi and wristed it in to cut the lead to a goal with 2:58 left to play.
Recchi and Tony Amonte had scoring chances in the final 30 seconds, but Belfour made a pair of saves to seal the win.
Game Notes: Recchi played despite being a gametime decision after he bruised his right foot Wednesday in practice. ... Toronto D Calle Johansson played his first game since coming out of retirement March 9. ... Maple Leafs D Ken Klee returned after missing four games with an abdominal strain. Klee left the game in the third period with an upper body injury and did not return. Quinn said the latest injury was not related to the previous ailment. ... Flyers D Vladimir Malakhov broke his jaw with 3:55 remaining when he was struck in the face with a puck. Malakhov, acquired from the Rangers on March 8, will have a plate implanted on Friday. ... Belfour registered his second assist of the season on one of Leetch's goals. ... Flyers C Jeremy Roenick, out since Feb. 12 with a broken jaw and a concussion, received a standing ovation from the crowd when he was shown on the arena screen. Roenick will visit a neurologist in Montreal next week and said he hopes to return for the final week of the regular season.