Maple Leafs Wrap Up Series, Down Flyers 1-0
By Ken Berger
PHILADELPHIA The Toronto Maple Leafs struck late again to bounce the Philadelphia Flyers from the playoffs.
Sergei Berezin scored with 59 seconds left in regulation Sunday night as the Maple Leafs beat the Flyers 1-0 to advance to the second round. The Maple Leafs became the first team in NHL playoff history to win a best-of-7 series without scoring at least three goals in any game.
The Flyers were seething that the game was decided by a late penalty.
After John LeClair was called for elbowing Mike Johnson with 2:54 left, the Maple Leafs scored on a fluke play that sent the Flyers home in the first round for the second straight year. Bryan Berard, who made a kick save earlier with Joseph wandering from the net, fanned on his shot and then had the puck bounce off defenseman Adam Burt.
It bounced right to Berezin, who shot it past a sprawling John Vanbiesbrouck for his second goal of the series and deflated a Philadelphia hockey season that ended with injured captain Eric Lindros watching as he recovers from a collapsed lung.
Mark Recchi led a final charge by the Flyers, but Curtis Joseph finished up a 26-save performance and leaped into the arms of teammate Dimitri Yushkevich when the horn sounded.
The Flyers were incensed by the penalty call, and coach Roger Neilson let it be known afterward.
``It wasn't a serious elbow by any means, and to have a series and a game decide by that is terrible,'' Neilson said. ``It's frustrating, it's annoying. We lost on a lousy call with two minutes to go.''
The Maple Leafs thrived with late goals under the strangest circumstances, including Yanic Perreault's overtime goal from a sharp angle in Game 5. Vanbiesbrouck also shut out the Maple Leafs for the first 118 minutes of the series before allowing two goals in the final two minutes of a Game 2 loss.
Toronto, whose 45 regular-season victories were the most in the franchise's proud history, is going to the second round for the first time since 1994.
The Flyers haven't won an elimination game since beating Montreal in Game 5 of the 1989 Wales Conference finals on Dave Poulin's overtime goal. They lost that series, missed the playoffs for five seasons and are 0-5 in elimination games since then.
Joseph seemed beatable and had a terrible time handling the puck, and it nearly doomed the Maple Leafs several times. With the taught scoreless tie playing itself out with 12 minutes left, Cujo calmly stopped a long shot with his stick, switched to his forehand and shot it out of the goal mouth missing a charging Mark Recchi's stick by inches.
Off a faceoff with about eight minutes left in the first, the puck caromed in front of the net for the second time in just a few minutes. Joseph alertly cleared it.
Then Joseph gave the puck to Karl Dykhuis with about 90 seconds left in the first, but the Flyers couldn't get a clean shot on net. But the most dangerous gaffe came less than two minutes into the second, when Joseph fell down behind the net and lost the puck to Rod Brind'Amour with the Maple Leafs on a power play.
Brind'Amour spun around and passed to Mikael Andersson as Cujo scrambled in vain to get back in the net. Berard kicked Andersson's weak shot aside with his left skate, preserving the scoreless tie.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press