PLAYOFF SERIES: Eastern Conference quarterfinal; tied 3-3
But that’s not the way they wanted it.
After squandering an opportunity to close out their best-of-seven series in Toronto, the Flyers host the Maple Leafs at the First Union Center for a decisive Game 7.
“We had an opportunity. We didn’t capitalize and it’s disappointing, but we have to quickly regroup,” Flyers captain Keith Primeau said after Monday’s 2-1, double-overtime loss at the Air Canada Centre.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge for both teams to quickly replenish and get recharged, but because of what’s at stake, I don’t think it will be hard for the guys to get motivated.”
Trailing the Flyers 3-2 in the series, the Maple Leafs staved off elimination when Travis Green scored 10:51 into the second extra period.
“We live to play another game,” Green said. “It was quite a relief when the puck went in.”
The fifth-seeded Maple Leafs have shifted the pressure back onto the fourth-seeded Flyers, who have been eliminated from the first round in four of the previous five seasons.
Three of those early disappointments ended on home ice.
However, Jeremy Roenick believes the change of venue will help the Flyers.
“It’s a big bonus for us to be playing in our building with our fans,” said Roenick, who scored Philadelphia’s lone goal Monday.
“It’s a one-game series now. There’s no time to rest.”
The quick turnaround will only add to the fatigue factor as the teams have played seven overtime periods in the first six games. Not since the 1950 Stanley Cup finals have Games 6 and 7 of a series been played on consecutive nights.
Minnesota and Colorado will also play Games 6 and 7 on successive days after the Wild’s 3-2 overtime victory Monday night.
The Flyers will again be without Eric Desjardins, who is sidelined two-to-four week with a broken bone in his right foot. The Flyers’ top defenseman blocked a shot midway through the third period of Philadelphia’s 4-1 victory Saturday.
Toronto, which has been outshot 246-170 over the first six games, has yet to win consecutive games in the series.
But the Leafs have already proven they can win in front of Philadelphia’s rabid fans. Though Toronto was outplayed in Game 1 at the First Union Center, getting outshot 31-15, the Leafs skated away with a 5-3 victory.
Philadelphia won its next two games at home by a combined score of 8-2.
Toronto goalie Ed Belfour, who stopped 35 shots Monday, believes the Leafs illustrated their will with Monday’s triumph.
“We showed a lot of character,” Belfour said. “We have a never-say-die attitude.”
The winner will meet the top-seeded Ottawa Senators in the conference semifinals.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Maple Leafs - 98 points; 5th seed. Flyers - 107 points; 4th seed.
PLAYOFF TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Alexander Mogilny, 5 goals and 6 points; Mats Sundin and Bryan McCabe, 3 assists; Tie Domi, 13 PIM. Flyers - Mark Recchi, 4 goals and 6 points; Tony Amonte and Michal Handzus, 4 assists; Donald Brashear, 11 PIM.
PLAYOFF SPECIAL TEAMS: Maple Leafs - Power play: 13.6 percent (3 for 22). Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (22 for 26). Flyers - Power play: 15.4 percent (4 for 26). Penalty killing: 86.4 percent (19 for 22).
REGULAR SEASON SERIES: 2-2. Belfour shut out the Flyers in the first two meetings, then Cechmanek yielded one goal in each of the next two to help Philadelphia gain a season split. Belfour surrendered just two goals on 77 shots in his three starts, helping hold the Flyers to five goals in the series.