Killing penalties takes toll on Toronto

MIKE ULMER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:32 AM ET

They poured over the boards last night against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Clarke Wilm and Alexander Steen and Chad Kilger.

Over here Alexander Khavanov and Matt Stajan and Eric Lindros sprawled out to block shots for the second home game in a row.

Four sets of penalty killers and the Maple Leafs spent them all.

The man advantage decided last night's 5-2 win by the Philadelphia Flyers, even if the Leafs managed to kill off all but one of their eight infractions.

"Look at what happens during the commercial" said Eric Lindros, a goal-scorer last night. "They're out there, trying to keep lose. It takes a very special kind of player to be able to jump on the ice after that."

Or look at the third period last night, a frame the visiting Flyers outshot the Leafs by a 16-5 margin and outscoring the Maple Leafs 3-1.

The Leafs looked like road kill.

The Maple Leafs don't have a penalty kill so much as a policy of not sending out Wade Belak and Nathan Perrott and Tie Domi when they're a man down. Coach Pat Quinn dropped Jason Allison occasionally into the mix as well. The idea was to spread out the fatigue as much as possible.

"We had four straight penalties," Quinn said. "We were trying to use three pair. When your penalty killers take penalties, you try to find someone else who can do it."

The Leafs, of course, have a rich history of being penalized. In the pre-lockout days, it became such an obsession that Quinn and the rest had an unofficial be kind to the refs policy since the carping, both from the bench and in the newspapers, seemed to be doing more harm than good.

Isn't it nice to know that some elements of the old game has been left untouched?

"You probably could question nearly every one of them (the calls)," Quinn said. "That's the hard part of it. Later on in the game, there was similar mugging going on when you're trying to play catchup and the whistles are in the pocket."

Actually, the calls, handed out by the far more active Bill McCreary and Craig Spada were judicious enough with probably one phantom call going each way.

Wade Belak, for example, took a holding call when his stick broke and then an unsportsmanlike for complaining to go with a tripping penalty. Aki Berg took two minors as well.

There's no argument that the Leafs were done by the third.

After surrendering 13:28 in power plays, nearly twice that of the Flyers, "we ran out of gas," defenceman Bryan McCabe said.

The Leafs entered the frame down 2-1. Kaberle and Eric Desjardins had traded power-play goals.

But with the Leafs enjoying a 5-on-3, Jeff O'Neill gained the Flyers line but ended up flipping the puck out of the Flyers zone. The Flyers fine rookie Mike Richards grabbed the puck, darted down the ice and wristed a shot past Leafs goalie Ed Belfour.

When Lindros one-timed a shot, his seventh of the season, past Robert Esche early in the third to tie the game, all seemed well for the locals.

But the Flyers restored he lead when Mike Knuble wristed a rebound past Belfour about four minutes in.

A Donald Brashear resulted from Branko Radivojevic beating Allison in the face off circle to put the Flyers up 4-2.

Radivojevic added another to push the margin to 5-2.

All in all, there was more than enough mistakes to go around.

The Leafs were dreadful in the faceoff circle. The Flyers went 16-6 in draws in the Leafs end.

There was sloppy passing, blown assignments and patchy goaltending work from Belfour.

But hey. How about that penalty kill?


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