But can they do it on the road?

KEN FIDLIN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:33 PM ET

 The final reviews are yet to be written, but this is a hockey series that has aspirations for greatness. There are a lot of criteria to be met but this thing is rounding into shape rather nicely.

 Both the Flyers and the Maple Leafs have held serve at home. Now, after Toronto's 3-1 victory last night, it's down to the short strokes. The intensity is rising as they head back to Philly tomorrow for what will be a critical test for the Leafs.

  "We probably have to play our best game of the series in Game 5," said Mats Sundin, who stepped up large last night, scoring Toronto's first two goals. Big games demand big responses from the names up in lights on the marquee and Sundin delivered.

 In that same vein, the prime-time players for the Flyers were once again silent witnesses to their team's second successive defeat in Toronto.

 "Two things have to happen if you want to win championships," Philadelphia coach Ken Hitchcock said. "You have to win in overtime, and you have to have key performers score at key times. I think in the two games here, that's been the big difference."

 Since neither game came close to overtime, Hitchcock was making a pointed comment about his stars. People such as Jeremy Roenick, Mark Recchi, John LeClair and Keith Primeau did not deliver the mail in Toronto. They don't need a message from Hitchcock to understand that fact.

 "We have to be more cohesive as a team," Roeneck said. "Guys like myself, Recchi and Johnny and some others have to accept that it is our job to step up.

 "It won't be easy. All you have to do is look at their lineup, their character, to know they're going to keep coming at us."

 That remains to be seen. The Leafs did what they had to in the friendly confines of the Air Canada Centre.

 Roenick wasn't kidding the other night when he suggested that a few of the Leafs "who didn't show up in Philly (for Games 1 and 2) came out with bigger backbones in Toronto."

 It will be critical to their Stanley Cup aspirations that their robust play isn't just a home-ice thing. The courage they showed at home has to travel well this weekend.

 "When you win the game, everything about your own game looks better," defenceman Brian Leetch said. "It's easy to dismiss the mistakes. The truth is, there really isn't much difference between the two teams. This is good hockey, playoff hockey."

 SPECIAL SPECIAL TEAMS

 In addition to their physical play, the Leafs once again got strong special teams play. It was a key difference in the game. Even though they didn't officially score a power-play goal, Darcy Tucker's insurance tip-in early in the third period was scored just one second after Marcus Ragnarsson's interference penalty had expired.

 There is clear frustration in the Flyers dressing room with respect to the officiating to this point. Primeau, the captain, said he is having difficulty getting a hearing from the refs, while he believes the Leafs' complaints are being heard.

 "I haven't screamed or yelled at them for any reason, but when I approach them, they don't want to hear anything I have to say," Primeau said. "If they won't listen, there's not much I can do."

 It was a somewhat subdued Philadelphia room last night. Unlike on Wednesday, when they were angry about what they felt was some dirty play by the Leafs, there was a more sombre tone. The Flyers may have been surprised by the Leafs on Wednesday, but felt they shouldn't have let it happen twice in a row.

 "We just have to go back into our building and play a solid game. Home-ice advantage is huge and we want to make sure it's the key to winning it," Roenick said.

 And now that it's a best-of-three, that's the long and the short of it. If the Leafs plan to survive this street-fight, they will have to go into Philadelphia and win at least once. They were bigger than life here on Bay St.

 Can they duplicate that courage on Broad St.?

 Nobody knows the answer to that one, but the finding out will be a blast.


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