Maple Leafs 5, Flyers 2

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PHILADELPHIA (AP)—The Philadelphia Flyers are more concerned about their disastrous special teams than playoff positioning.

Jeff O’Neill had two goals, leading the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 5-2 victory over Philadelphia on Saturday night.

The Flyers fell five points behind the Atlantic-Division leading New York Rangers with five games remaining for each, including one meeting between the teams. Philadelphia is fifth in the Eastern Conference.

If the Flyers can’t find a way to play better short-handed, it won’t matter where they finish or which team they meet in the playoffs.

Each of Toronto’s goals came on the power play against the NHL’s worst penalty-killing team at home. The Leafs finished 5-for-8 with the man advantage. Meanwhile, the Flyers were only 1-for-5 on the power play.

“We took really poor penalties,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We made defending mistakes. When you don’t kill them off, it’s deflating. And when you don’t score on your opportunities, it’s even more deflating.”

Alex Steen, Mats Sundin and Chad Kilger also scored for Toronto, which won its second game in Philadelphia in less than two weeks. The Maple Leafs had never before beaten the Flyers twice on the road in the same season.

Despite the win, Toronto’s playoff chances are slim. The Leafs are 10th in the East, seven points out of the final spot.

“If we can continue to win, hopefully they can falter a little down the stretch,” forward Darcy Tucker said.

R.J. Umberger and Jeff Carter scored for the Flyers, who were without top playmaker Peter Forsberg for the second straight game because of a groin injury.

O’Neill deflected a slap shot from Ian White past goalie Antero Niittymaki to give Toronto a 1-0 lead in the first period.

Late in the first, Matt Stajan sent a perfect centering pass to a streaking Steen, whose one-timer made it 2-0. Steen had the winning goal in Toronto’s 3-2 victory in Philadelphia on March 28.

The Leafs took a 3-0 lead when O’Neill scored another power-play goal in the second period after Flyers defenseman Denis Gauthier received a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding.

“It’s a mind-set of going out and getting the job done,” Gauthier said of killing penalties.

Umberger cut it to 3-1 with 4:47 left in the second period. He one-timed a behind-the-net pass from Niko Dimitrakos into the top corner.

But Sundin restored a three-goal advantage with his 23rd goal in the final minute of the second period. Carter’s power-play goal in the third got the Flyers within two.

Kilger’s power-play goal came with an empty net in the final seconds.

“No excuses. We have to find a way to get it done,” Flyers forward Sami Kapanen said.

Jean-Sebastien Aubin made 28 saves for the Leafs. Aubin, who spent most of the season in the AHL, is unbeaten in regulation in seven starts, going 5-0-2.

The Flyers, plagued by injuries throughout the season, also didn’t have center Petr Nedved (groin) for the fourth consecutive game while defensemen Kim Johnsson (concussion) and Chris Therein (head) remained sidelined.

“When you come in here and beat a team like this, you wonder how we have the record we do,” O’Neill said.

Flyers enforcer Donald Brashear squared off with Wade Belak near center ice late in the first period, giving fans their only reason to cheer to that point. But the fight proved to be a dud when Brashear slipped after throwing his first punch and the referees stepped in.

Notes

The Maple Leafs won the season series, 3-1. … The Flyers are 9-8-2 without Forsberg, who has 19 goals and 55 assists for 74 points in 58 games. They’re 31-16-9 with him in the lineup. … C Ryan Potulny, the Flyers’ third-round draft pick in 2003, was scratched a night after playing his first NHL game. … The Flyers have allowed 57 power-play goals in 225 chances at home. This was the third time this season—all at home—they’ve allowed four or more power-play goals in a game.

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Three Stars

  Game Winning Goal
J. O'Neill J. O'Neill
Toronto Maple Leafs
Scored at 4:51 of 2nd

Goaltending

Goalie Team Shot Save
Antero Niittymaki SJ 28 24