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Flyers take 3-2 series lead

5/2/2004

PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- Keith Primeau backed up his challenge and
prediction.

Primeau had three goals and Michal Handzus scored twice, leading
the Philadelphia Flyers to a 7-2 victory over the Toronto Maple
Leafs on Sunday in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal
series.

Philadelphia can eliminate the Leafs with a victory in Toronto
on Tuesday night. If necessary, Game 7 would be Thursday. The home
team has won each game in the series.

Primeau, the Flyers' captain, addressed his teammates in a
closed-door meeting Saturday. He responded with the best playoff
performance of his 14-year career.

"He told us he would be great today and to jump on for the
ride," Flyers goaltender Sean Burke said.

Primeau shared the credit.

"I'm getting lucky right now," Primeau said. "I had to lead
with emotion and energy. There was no extra pressure. We have a lot
of guys capable of leading."

The victory was costly for the Flyers, who lost goalie Robert
Esche and defenseman Vladimir Malakhov to undisclosed injuries.
Burke replaced Esche after the first period and stopped eight of
nine shots.

"Both guys have upper-body injuries. We'll give you the truth
tomorrow," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said.

After being outplayed in two straight losses in Toronto, the
Flyers dominated the game from the start, taking a 2-0 lead in the
first six minutes and holding the Leafs without a shot until the
final minute of the first period.

Mark Recchi and Branko Radivojevic also scored for the Flyers,
who have never lost a best-of-seven series in which they led 2-0,
going 16-0.

Leafs goalie Ed Belfour allowed six goals on 18 shots, before
being replaced by Trevor Kidd less than four minutes into the
second period.

Joe Nieuwendyk and Gary Roberts scored for Toronto.

"We made a lot of mistakes and the whole team didn't perform up
to the level they can," Leafs captain Mats Sundin said.

Energized by a noisy sellout crowd of 19,825, the Flyers played
with more intensity and determination than they showed in the two
losses at the Air Canada Centre. They outshot Toronto 29-11.

Recchi picked up a loose puck after a turnover by Leafs
defenseman Bryan McCabe, skated in and wristed a shot past Belfour
for a 1-0 lead 3:51 in.

Handzus made it 2-0 just 1:52 later with his first goal of the
playoffs. Handzus took a drop pass from Simon Gagne and shot it
through a screen past Belfour.

Primeau's first goal came on a short-handed breakaway with 1:06
left in the first period. Primeau beat McCabe to a loose puck,
skated in on Belfour, made a nifty move to go around defenseman
Brian Leetch and one-handed a shot into the net.

His second goal came on another breakaway 44 seconds into the
second period. Primeau broke in with Gagne, who made a nice
centering pass to set up the easy goal.

Primeau made it 7-2 early in the third period with his fifth
goal of the playoffs. He entered the game with just 11 playoff
goals in 119 games.

"He's like a lot of captains," Hitchcock said. "He's really
focused."

Nieuwendyk, back in the lineup after sitting out the last three
games with back spasms, scored Toronto's first goal on a rebound
with 35 seconds left in the first period.

The Flyers beat Belfour and the Leafs 6-1 in Game 7 of their
first-round playoff series last spring. Philadelphia hadn't scored
seven goals in the playoffs since a 7-3 victory over Tampa Bay on
April 16, 1996.

"We have to make sure we come back and play much better right
from the start," Belfour said. "Going home is definitely going to
help us."<
^Notes: The Flyers have scored first in nine of their 10 playoff
games. ... Eagles QB Donovan McNabb attended the game, wearing a
No. 5 Flyers jersey. ... Handzus had 20 goals in the regular
season, but didn't score in Philadelphia's first nine playoff
games. John LeClair, a former 50-goal scorer who had 23 goals in
the regular season, still hasn't scored. ... McCabe was a minus-5.
... The Flyers are 6-0 at home this postseason. ... Toronto's shots
were the fewest by any Flyers opponent in the playoffs. The
previous low was 12 by the New York Rangers in a 2-1 victory for
Philadelphia on April 10, 1986.