October 11, 2004
TORONTO (CP) -- Mikael Tellqvist gave Toronto a chance, and third-period goals by Jeff O'Neill and Eric Lindros gave the Maple Leafs a 4-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.
Darcy Tucker and Kyle Wellwood also scored as the Leafs, 1-1-2, won their first game of the NHL season.
Tellqvist made it possible. The Swedish backup, getting his first start as Ed Belfour watched, earned a rousing ovation from the capacity Air Canada Centre crowd of 19,391 as he left the ice.
Philadelphia had a 33-22 shots advantage, but Tellqvist kept it close until O'Neill scored with a slap shot from the point on a power play at 7:34 of the third period as Mike Richards watched from the penalty box. The puck appeared to carom past goalie Robert Esche off Eric Desjardins' leg.
Lindros capped the scoring at 13:09 -- one second after the expiration of a penalty to Simon Gagne. Lindros stickhandled out of a corner and ripped a wrist shot into the near-side top corner of the net.
Tellqvist wore a huge smile when he was announced as the first star at game's end.
Besides Tellqvist's play, another key to the win was the Leafs' discipline in the third period. They didn't take a penalty, which is something in these whistle-happy times. Toronto finished 1-for-6 and Philadelphia 0-for-4 on power plays.
Mike Knuble and Gagne scored for the Flyers, 1-2-0, who have looked better on paper than on ice so far.
Tucker had opened the scoring 7:38 into the game. Jason Allison fired a shot from the circle to the right of goalie Robert Esche and towards the far bottom corner of the net. Esche kicked out his left leg and made the stop, and a fat rebound slid to Tucker.
Knuble tied it with a short-handed goal at 17:47. Randy Jones got the puck near the top of the circle to the right of Tellqvist. Alexander Khavanov was at Knuble's back in front of the crease and was careful not to push him and draw what would be a penalty under the strict new interference guidelines. Jones passed the puck and Knuble, with as much room as he'd find in a supermarket aisle at midnight, deflected it in.
Wellwood, appearing in his fourth NHL game, gave the Leafs a 2-1 lead at 4:16 of the second period. Matt Stajan had the puck behind the Philadelphia net when he spotted Wellwood speeding towards the crease. The puck was up and under the crossbar before Esche could do anything about it.
Gagne scooped in a backhander to end a prolonged scramble around the Leafs' net and tie it 2-2 with his fourth goal of the season at 17:58 of the second.
O'Neill, who had missed two games nursing a shoulder he bruised in the opener, was used by coach Pat Quinn on the right side of the Tucker-Allison line.
Notes: The start of the second period was delayed 22 minutes before full TV lighting could be restored . . . Jones earned his first NHL point with his assist on Knuble's goal . . . Toronto scratches were C Mats Sundin (fractured left orbital bone, indefinite), RW Mariusz Czerkawski, RW Nathan Perrott and D Andy Wozniewski . . . Not in the Flyers lineup were D Derian Hatcher (serving third game of three-game suspension for incident in 2004 playoffs), D Chris Therien (back spasms, day to day), D Denis Seidenberg (concussion, indefinite), RW Sami Kapanen (Sept. 20 surgery on torn right shoulder cartilage, indefinite) and RW Turner Stevenson . . . The Flyers gave D Wade Skolney of Wynyard, Sask., his first NHL start. The fourth-year pro suffered a head injury on Nov. 19, 2004, playing for the Philadelphia Phantoms and missed the remainder of the AHL season . . . The Leafs play Friday at Atlanta and Saturday at Montreal.