Silent Bob quiets Leafs

STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 2:21 PM ET


 Robert Esche appeared to be a prime candidate for a meltdown heading into last night's game.

 But in the end, he burned the Maple Leafs.

 The Flyers goalie, who was dubbed Silent Bob by the Philadelphia media, was forced to leave Game 5 after the first period because of dizziness and nausea.

 He later diagnosed as having the flu and there was speculation he wouldn't play last night in Game 6.

 On top of that, the Whitesboro, N.Y., native had spent the entire series in a quiet funk, refusing to speak to the media.

 But Esche wouldn't let either his illness or misplaced nerves prevent him from leading the Flyers to the Eastern Conference final last night and a date against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

 Esche stood tall in stopping 34 Toronto shots, including a highlight reel save on Tie Domi late in regulation to keep the game tied 2-2.

 In overtime, the Leafs pressed, but Esche stood on his head before Jeremy Roenick scored.

 "I sure as hell hope so," Roenick said when asked if Esche answered his critics. "You guys had blinders on (about Esche). He's the reason why we won the hockey game."

 The Leafs thought they had the ace card in Ed Belfour. And while Belfour did play well, Esche was every bit the Eagle's equal. Still, Esche insisted he did not outshine Belfour.

 "I don't look at it as if I outplayed him or outplayed Marty (Brodeur) because those two guys are elite goalies, but it is an honour to be thrown into the same sentence as them," he said.

 The other hero for the Flyers was Roenick.

 "I was thinking in here (the dressing room) before the overtime period started, that if there's a two-on-one, I'm shooting, I'm going short side high," Roenick said of the sequence that vaulted the Flyers past Toronto. "I made a little move to move Eddie and I just put it upstairs."


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