Primeau's Hat Trick Gives Flyers Edge
Maple Leafs Head Home Trailing 3-2: Flyers 7, Maple Leafs 2
Monday, May 3, 2004; Page D04
PHILADELPHIA, May 2 -- 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.
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 Air Canada Centre. They outshot Toronto 29-11.
Primeau, the Flyers' captain, addressed his teammates in a closed-door meeting Saturday. He responded with the best playoff performance of his 14-year career.
"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 leading."
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 period.
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. They are 16-0.
Maple Leafs goalie Ed Belfour gave up 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.
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