Some sluggish hockey in the first followed by a bit more offense in the second and third periods that was the tempo of Game One between the Leafs and the Flyers. In a rather different display of hockey that what we are used to between the two there was more in the way of scoring attempts and less of the punishing physical nature that these two teams are famous for..
Tony Amonte opened up the game with a goal for Philly at 7:14; his score was answered by Alexander Mogilny at 14.28 of the first period. Both teams got their skating legs back into shape during the first. The Flyers who had a four day rest took a bit of time to shake out the rust, while the Leafs had to bounce back after clinching their series on Tuesday against Ottawa. As the second period got underway they started to pick up the pace and with the increase in the speed came a few more collisions.
Goaltending once again proved to be an important ingredient to the flow of the game, and for the first time in a long stretch Eddie Belfour just looked normal. Robert Esche our performing him on this debut game of the series. Esche faced 22 shots and performed a number of Leaf defying saves to secure the victory for the Flyers. Beflour had 23 shots on net to handle, allowing three to get by the usually secure wall he provides.
Marcus Ragnarsson scored the go ahead goal 5:13 into the second, bouncing a shot from Michal Handzus off of the leg of Leaf Nik Antropov. Simon Gagne put the game out of reach at the 15 minute mark of the third, marking the final goal of the game giving Pilly a 3-1 victory.
Toronto kept close for most of the second and third periods, unable to score on Esche. With little ill effects from their lengthy series against Ottawa, the Leafs can now rest up and hopefully get captain Mats Sundin back in the line up for game two. Which won’t take place until Sunday night; as in a sad indication of just how far hockey is falling in the rankings of US sports fans, the Flyers rink has been booked for Arena Football on Saturday. Yep that’s right Arena Football! So while the hunt for Stanley will take an extra days rest, Philadelphians will sit entranced with footballs bouncing off sideboards and roof high nets. Tis to make a hockey purist cry in his Labatt.