Maple Leafs Even Series With Penguins
TORONTO Mats Sundin broke out of his scoring slump, and dropped Jaromir Jagr with one of the hardest body checks of the game, to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 4-2 victory Sunday night that evened their playoff series with the Pittsburgh Penguins at one win each.
Sundin scored his second and third postseason goals and assisted on goals by Steve Thomas and Lonny Bohonos, whose unexpected appearance invigorated the Maple Leafs' first line.
Kip Miller and German Titov beat Curtis Joseph, who was otherwise at his acrobatic best.
Game 3 in the NHL Eastern Conference semifinal is Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.
Titov's goal off a cross-crease pass from Jagr 12:42 into the third period set up a tense finish.
But Thomas blasted a slap shot from the circle to the left of goalie Tom Barrasso high into the Pittsburgh net at 16:50 to end the suspense. Penguins coach Kevin Constantine yelled at referees Don Koharski and Paul Stewart and applauded them for missing what appeared to be an obvious trip of a Penguin that helped the Maple Leafs gain possession of the puck.
The Maple Leafs had jumped to a 2-0 lead in outshooting the Penguins 12-7 in the first period.
Bohonos, who has bounced between the NHL and the AHL for five years and who had been brought in after the elimination last week of the St. John's farm team, hadn't expected to play. But he was given the left-wing spot of Freddie Modin, who was dropped from the lineup because of his lack of productivity, and had an immediate impact alongside Sundin and Steve Thomas.
Bohonos backhanded in a rebound at 6:06, and got an assist when Sundin did the same at 14:41 on a power play.
``It's definitely one of my career highlights,'' Bohonos said during an interview at the first intermission.
The Maple Leafs were skating faster than they had in Game 1 to avoid Pittsburgh's neutral-zone defensive trap, and they were playing with a lot more intensity than they had during that 2-0 loss Friday.
Sundin flattened Jagr at center with a shoulder check in the fifth minute of the second period. The NHL scoring champion's stick flew into the air, and he was slow getting up. Jagr, playing at half speed with a strained groin, made his way to his team's bench and took a seat. But he didn't miss a shift.
Toronto led 3-1 after two periods despite a 14-7 Pittsburgh edge in shots in the second.
Miller blocked a shot by Bryan Berard at his own blue line, darted down left wing with Berard in chase, faked a shot from the circle to induce Joseph out of the crease, and skated around the sliding goalie to slip a shot into the vacated net at 9:12 to make it 2-1.
Sundin slapped in a bad-angle shot from the far bottom rim of the circle to the right of Barrasso at 11:49 to make it 3-1.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press