Vanbiesbrouck, Flyers Turn Back Maple Leafs, 3-0
Thursday, April 22, 1999; 10:21 p.m. EDT
TORONTO John Vanbiesbrouck stopped 25 shots, including a penalty shot by Mats Sundin, as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0 Thursday night.
Valeri Zelepukin, John LeClair and Eric Desjardins scored the goals and the Flyers' checking frustrated the highest-scoring team in the NHL as they got the jump in the opener of their first-round Eastern Conference series.
The Maple Leafs led the NHL with 268 goals during the regular season, but were continually thwarted by the Flyers, who were making their first playoff appearance in three years.
The turning point came early. Toronto had a two-man advantage for two minutes when both Chris Therien and Keith Jones were sent off for cross-checking in the 11th minute. The Maple Leafs could not score, and the Flyers grabbed a 1-0 lead shortly after returning to full strength.
Toronto goalie Curtis Joseph tried to clear the puck up the side boards but it didn't make it to the blue line. Daymond Langkow pounced on the turnover and spotted Zelepukin hovering behind the defense near the crease. Zelepukin took the pass, pulled the puck to his backhand, and lifted it past Joseph at 15:32.
The Maple Leafs had planned to beat the Flyers with superior speed, but bad passes ruined their offensive flow. At the end of the first period, Toronto had committed eight turnovers to only two by Philadelphia. And the Flyers were winning the battles along the boards.
LeClair's power-play goal at 11:32 of the second period made it 2-0. The Maple Leafs were two men short with Sundin off for tripping and Steve Sullivan serving a cross-checking penalty. LeClair was alone in front of Joseph to bang home Rod Brind'Amour's pass.
Toronto's Sergei Berezin fired a shot off a goal post with 5 1/2 minutes left in the second period.
Vanbiesbrouck stopped Sundin's penalty shot 51 seconds into the third by getting his left forearm in the way of a wrist shot. Toronto got the free shot when Steve Duchesne grabbed the puck in his team's crease.
The Maple Leafs' attempt at a late rally fizzled in the face of the Flyers' disciplined positional play.
Desjardins clinched the game with an empty-netter with 16.5 seconds left.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press