Maple Leafs Eliminate Penguins in Overtime
By Alan Robinson
PITTSBURGH The Pittsburgh Penguins not only are out of money, they're out of the playoffs.
Garry Valk, a Penguin a year ago, scored his first two career playoff goals and the Toronto Maple Leafs ousted the bankrupt Penguins from their second-round series, 4-3 Monday night in Game 6.
The Maple Leafs, in danger of falling behind in the series 3-1 only five days ago, won the final three games of the series, two in overtime.
Valk's winner at 1:57 of overtime was eerily reminiscent of Sergei Berezin's OT goal in Game 4. After a faceoff, goaltender Tom Barrasso came out to play Yanic Perreault's shot that rebounded to Berezin, who skidded while taking a shot that deflected off Valk's stick and into an open net.
The Maple Leafs now advance to a conference final for the first time since 1994. The Penguins face an uncertain future in bankruptcy court that could see the franchise sold, dissolved or moved by next month.
Toronto trailed 2-0 with less than 15 minutes gone, but Lonny Bohonos and Valk scored 26 seconds apart early in the second period to neutralize Pittsburgh's strong start.
Berezin then gave the Maple Leafs their first lead at 11:43, a slap shot from near the top of the right circle moments after Perreault won a faceoff.
It was the second key goal in as many games in Pittsburgh for Berezin, whose game-winning overtime goal in Game 4 tied the series.
Suddenly down 3-2 less than 12 minutes after holding a two-goal lead, the Penguins regained the urgency they had in the opening minutes and tied it on who else? Jaromir Jagr's goal at 14:41.
Jagr skated to the top of the crease to put in Kip Miller's pass from the left circle, his fifth goal in his last nine playoff games. He missed four games and was hampered in several others by a groin injury.
The Penguins, held to 30 shots while losing the previous two games, came out shooting on every opportunity and built up 14 shots and their two-goal lead in less than 15 minutes.
Curtis Joseph turned away several good scoring chances while making seven saves in the opening 3:50. But the Penguins scored at 5:04 when Jagr grabbed his own rebound behind the net and fed to Robbie Brown.
Alexei Kovalev, back in the lineup after missing two games with a sore ankle, scored at 14:06 on the Penguins' 14th shot, as many as they had in losing Game 4. Pittsburgh was 0-3 in the playoffs when Kovalev is injured and can't play.
Even though it was possibly the Penguins' last game in Pittsburgh, only one banner in a sold-out Civic Arena referred to their possible demise. Hanging a few feet below their two Stanley Cup championship banners, it read: ``Let's Go Pens ... Forever.''
Penguins fans mostly left quietly, while several hundred Maple Leafs fans briefly stayed in the arena chanting ``O, Canada'' and ``Go Leafs Go.''
Toronto is 3-0 in overtime playoff games this spring.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press