PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Keith Primeau backed up his challenge and prediction.
Primeau had three goals and Michal Handzus scored twice, leading the
Philadelphia Flyers to a 7-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday in
Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Philadelphia can eliminate the Leafs with a victory in Toronto on Tuesday
night. If necessary, Game 7 would be Thursday. The home team has won each game
in the series.
Primeau, the Flyers' captain, addressed his teammates in a closed-door
meeting Saturday. He responded with the best playoff performance of his 14-year
``He told us he would be great today and to jump on for the ride,'' Flyers
goaltender Sean Burke said.
Primeau shared the credit.
``I'm getting lucky right now,'' Primeau said. ``I had to lead with emotion
and energy. There was no extra pressure. We have a lot of guys capable of
The victory was costly for the Flyers, who lost goalie Robert Esche and
defenseman Vladimir Malakhov to undisclosed injuries. Burke replaced Esche
after the first period and stopped eight of nine shots.
``Both guys have upper-body injuries. We'll give you the truth tomorrow,''
Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said.
After being outplayed in two straight losses in Toronto, the Flyers
dominated the game from the start, taking a 2-0 lead in the first six minutes
and holding the Leafs without a shot until the final minute of the first
Mark Recchi and Branko Radivojevic also scored for the Flyers, who have
never lost a best-of-seven series in which they led 2-0, going 16-0.
Leafs goalie Ed Belfour allowed six goals on 18 shots, before being replaced
by Trevor Kidd less than four minutes into the second period.
Joe Nieuwendyk and Gary Roberts scored for Toronto.
``We made a lot of mistakes and the whole team didn't perform up to the
level they can,'' Leafs captain Mats Sundin said.
Energized by a noisy sellout crowd of 19,825, the Flyers played with more
intensity and determination than they showed in the two losses at the Air
Canada Centre. They outshot Toronto 29-11.
Recchi picked up a loose puck after a turnover by Leafs defenseman Bryan
McCabe, skated in and wristed a shot past Belfour for a 1-0 lead 3:51 in.
Handzus made it 2-0 just 1:52 later with his first goal of the playoffs.
Handzus took a drop pass from Simon Gagne and shot it through a screen past
Primeau's first goal came on a short-handed breakaway with 1:06 left in the
first period. Primeau beat McCabe to a loose puck, skated in on Belfour, made a
nifty move to go around defenseman Brian Leetch and one-handed a shot into the
His second goal came on another breakaway 44 seconds into the second period.
Primeau broke in with Gagne, who made a nice centering pass to set up the easy
Primeau made it 7-2 early in the third period with his fifth goal of the
playoffs. He entered the game with just 11 playoff goals in 119 games.
``He's like a lot of captains,'' Hitchcock said. ``He's really focused.''
Nieuwendyk, back in the lineup after sitting out the last three games with
back spasms, scored Toronto's first goal on a rebound with 35 seconds left in
the first period.
The Flyers beat Belfour and the Leafs 6-1 in Game 7 of their first-round
playoff series last spring. Philadelphia hadn't scored seven goals in the
playoffs since a 7-3 victory over Tampa Bay on April 16, 1996.
``We have to make sure we come back and play much better right from the
start,'' Belfour said. ``Going home is definitely going to help us.''