Leafs aware clock is ticking

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 3:41 PM ET


 When Ron Francis met the media in the Maple Leafs dressing room yesterday, a toilet could be heard flushing in the nearby bathroom.

 But despite being down 2-0 to the Philadelphia Flyers in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final, the Leafs don't think it's an omen.

 "You come into every series with the mentality you are preparing to battle for seven games," Francis said. "You don't look at having to win four of the next five (to win the series) -- you look at Game 3. We can believe we can win and be successful."

 MUST WIN

 The Leafs realize they have no choice but to win Game 3 tomorrow night at the Air Canada Centre. Only two NHL clubs -- the 1942 Leafs, in the Stanley Cup final against the Detroit Red Wings, and the 1975 New York Islanders, in the Cup quarter-finals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, have erased a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series.

 The Leafs will cling to whatever confidence they can cull from outplaying the Flyers in Game 2. Sure, the Leafs were fairly sound, but the offence has to begin producing immediately. Toronto has scored just 16 goals in nine playoff games.

 Nik Antropov, with no post-season goals, acknowledged after an optional skate yesterday at the ACC his confidence is slipping away; Alex Mogilny, the owner of one goal in the playoffs, snapped his stick in frustration at the end of Game 2 on Sunday; and Darcy Tucker, Francis, Brian Leetch and Robert Reichel have not scored since the end of the season.

 Tie Domi's unwavering persistence is admirable, and with his two goals he has outscored every other Toronto forward but Joe Nieuwendyk (five goals) and Gary Roberts (three).

 "It's not good enough, but at the same time I am not surprised," said captain Mats Sundin, who has one goal in five games. "Ottawa was a tight-checking team (in Round 1), and Philadelphia plays a similar type of defensive game. We are not going to win the series if we can't produce more offence."

 So the Leafs have one practice today to try to get their on-ice lives in order. If not, just one loss will stand between them and what many observers feel will be a long work stoppage that could wipe out the full 2004-05 season.


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