It happened just how he planned.
Roenick beat goaltender Ed Belfour on the short side during a two-on-one break 7:39 into overtime Tuesday night, giving the Flyers a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs and sending Philadelphia into the Eastern Conference finals.
“My eyes went wide,” Roenick said. “It was unbelievable that I got the opportunity, so I knew exactly what I was going to do right from the start.”
Roenick scored his 50th career playoff goal earlier in the game.
“People tell me to shoot, shoot, shoot,” he said. “Every time I get into a position like that I pass. I wasn’t passing tonight.”
The goal gave the Flyers a six-game victory over the Leafs in their best-of-seven series, and came after Toronto rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period.
Philadelphia is in the conference finals for the 14th time, tying Montreal for the most appearances since expansion. The Flyers went 0-4 in the regular season against the Lightning, who swept Montreal and have been off since last Thursday.
“It’s a big effort by our club and a huge stepping stone for the group in this locker room,” Flyers captain Keith Primeau said. “We’re really proud of what we accomplished here.”
The home team won the first five games of this series, but the Flyers broke through and snapped Toronto’s five-game winning streak at home.
Sensing that his team was sagging after being outshot 24-7 in the second and third periods, Hitchcock told his players to start taking chances in overtime.
“We had to go back and get them,” Hitchcock said. “We had to take some risks to get them on their heels.”
The Flyers responded in the wild overtime period.
With teammate Tony Amonte racing up the middle and defender Bryan McCabe the only Leafs player back, Roenick broke up the right side on a two-on-one, and snapped a 15-footer that popped the water bottle off the top of the Toronto net.
The goal came 14 seconds after Belfour foiled Mark Recchi on another two-on-one. And it came about 40 seconds after Toronto’s Darcy Tucker slammed Sami Kapanen into the boards. Play continued even though Kapanen had difficulty getting up and staggered to the Flyers bench.
Tucker was not penalized.
Kapanen is fine, Hitchcock said, although he wasn’t impressed by Tucker’s hit.
“It was a terrible hit. It was a head shot,” said Hitchcock, noting that Tucker also delivered a similar check in Game 5 that prevented defenseman Vladimir Malakhov from playing Tuesday. “I thought those were two cheap shots. They were deliberate attempts to hurt people.”
Tucker didn’t make himself available to reporters.
The Maple Leafs’ season ended abruptly, dashing the hopes for a veteran-laden team that believed it had the capacity of making a deep playoff run.
“I was convinced we were going to find a way to advance,” Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. “When you have those hopes and dreams, it seems to be devastating right now.”
The Leafs, coming off a 7-2 drubbing at Philadelphia in Game 5 on Sunday, came out flat, falling behind when Somik and Roenick scored less than six minutes apart to put the Flyers ahead 2-0 with 4:30 left in the first.
Toronto finally began gaining momentum, taking advantage of a Flyers team that appeared content to sit on their lead.
“We woke up too late,” said Sundin, whose team was eliminated by Philadelphia for the second straight year. “It would’ve been nice to have that effort at the start.”
Esche was sharp, showing no signs of the flu symptoms that forced him to miss the final two periods of Philadelphia’s 7-2 win in Game 5. His best saves came when he stopped Tie Domi on the doorstep with 70 seconds left in regulation.
“We were a confident bunch of guys even after they tied it up,” Esche said. “A lot of guys were excited to get into overtime. We weren’t scared, we weren’t nervous.”
Roenick is the 48th player to score 50 playoff goals.
The Flyers beat Tampa Bay in six games in their only previous playoff meeting, a first-round series in 1996. … Maple Leafs C Ron Francis, whose 143 playoff points rank 11th among active players, was scratched after managing just four assists in 12 games. C Clarke Wilm was also scratched. … Francis and Wilm were replaced by Robert Reichel, who returned after sitting out the previous game, and RW Tom Fitzgerald, who sat out the previous three games. … Flyers D Dennis Seidenberg made his NHL playoff debut, replacing Malakhov. …The Flyers have scored the first goal in 10 of 11 games this postseason.