No worry for Esche

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:23 PM ET


 The previous time Robert Esche allowed four goals in a playoff game, he posted a shutout in his next start and allowed just one more in each of his next three.

 So, no one expected him to be cowering in a corner when the Philadelphia Flyers dressing room opened after last night's 4-1 Maple Leafs' win.

 "I'm confident, win or lose," Esche said. "Toronto played a good game tonight. They came out hard. They played the way they should."

 CHIPPED AWAY

 Aided by an Alex Mogilny breakaway and a couple of nifty deflections, the Leafs chipped away at the wall Esche had constructed in Games 1 and 2. By the third period, he was smacking at Leafs such as Gary Roberts, exactly as the home side had hoped he'd do, given Ed Belfour's frustrations in Philly.

 "Sometimes I live in the moment a little too much and get caught up in it," Esche said.

 He was beaten four times by the New Jersey Devils in the first game at the Meadowlands after the Flyers had grabbed a 2-0 series lead in their opening round. But from that point on, he stopped 114 of 117 shots heading into last night.

 "We know the Leafs are a great club, he said. "No one here thought any game in this series would be a breeze. We thought that in Philly and we thought that in here tonight."

 The Mogilny breakaway goal snapped a seven-game streak of the Flyers scoring first in these playoffs. It was the one goal Esche wanted back last night.

 "Breakaways are always up in the air," he said. "(Mogilny) made a good move and went to his forehand and went off the inside of the post. They did a good job on deflections. But they're something you can't get worried or excitied about "

 Esche said he wasn't thrown off by a hostile home crowd, though his surname doesn't exactly roll off the tongue and lend itself to a bothersome chant.

 Todd Fedoruk, meanwhile, said the Flyers drifted away from a proven game plan.

 "We just had a lull and didn't turn things around in time." he said. "We stopped doing what we were told to do, our red-line-and-in mentality. We weren't playing north, we were playing east-west."


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