Maple Leafs Knock Down Flyers in OT, 2-1
Saturday, May 1, 1999; 12:35 a.m. EDT TORONTO Overtime is the best time for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Yanic Perreault's goal 11:51 into overtime gave the Maple Leafs a 2-1 victory Friday night over the Philadelphia Flyers and a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference quarter-final series.
Toronto now has lost only once in 15 sudden-death situations since last autumn, including a 6-1-7 regular-season showing.
Perreault took a pass from Garry Valk, skated to the lower lip of the faceoff circle to the left of John Vanbiesbrouck, and lifted a low backhander that went under the goalie's catching mitt near the post.
"I wanted to protect the puck with my left leg so that's why I tried to get a backhand shot on Vanbiesbrouck,'' said Perreault. "In overtime, you're just trying to get the puck on the net.
"That's the main thing. Gary Valk made a nice play at the blue line. Two of their guys went to him and that gave me some space to the outside.''
Philadelphia's Keith Jones and Toronto's Dimitri Yushkevich exchanged first-period goals.
Each team had 34 shots on goal in a game that could have gone either way.
Vanbiesbrouck has been beaten at least three times by bad-angle backhanders in the series.
"It went in, that's about it,'' was all he would say about Perreault's shot.
Games 6 is Sunday night in Philadelphia. If a Game 7 is necessary, the teams will return to the Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night.
"We knew this series was going to be tight and close,'' said Perreault, whose goal was the biggest of his career since a 1996 shootout shot helped Canada beat Russia in the semifinals of the world championship. "They're playing really solid defensively they're a big team.
"We're not going to get that many chances every game so every goal is important.''
Said Vanbiesbrouck: "We're doing a good job, we really are. We just didn't get the break. One goal either way has been the difference.''
Toronto captain Mats Sundin hit the crossbar 6 1/2 minutes into overtime.
Then, 11:40 into overtime, Philadelphia's Rod Brind'Amour had the puck alone in front of Toronto goalie Curtis Joseph.
"I didn't want him to go all the way around me so I stretched out and fortunately I got enough of (the puck) and it rolled over me,'' said Joseph, who smothered the puck in the crease.
"Mats (Sundin) was just about to put his hand on it and he said, `Thank goodness,' I beat him to the punch.''
Toronto then went the other way and Perreault ended the game to the delight of a capacity crowd of 18,800.
The Flyers have lost seven consecutive playoff overtime games since a 1995 sudden-death win.
"It could have been our best game of the series,'' said Joseph. "Give a lot of the credit to a lot of guys who did a lot of little things right, and we skated well.''
Toronto's defense kept the front of the crease a lot clearer than it had in Game 4, a 5-2 Flyers win.
"We had good body position on their forwards,'' said Maple Leafs defenseman Chris McAllister. "We kept them more to the outside instead of near the crease.
"Cujo got to see most of the pucks tonight.''
Jones scored on a wraparound 1:52 into the game, and Yushkevich threaded a long wrist shot through a group of players at 9:16 on a power play.
Toronto lost Yushkevich in the third period with a cut arm.
"I thought we were wearing them down in overtime,'' said Flyers coach Roger Neilson. "They were down to five defensemen.
"But they got the goal.''
Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn got the defensive effort from his forwards that was lacking in Game 4.
"It's not really our style, but our guys answered the bell in that territory,'' he said.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press