- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 26, 2002

RALEIGH, N.C. Could this be the start of yet another playoff comeback by the Toronto Maple Leafs?
Darcy Tucker scored in the first period and Curtis Joseph turned away 27 shots as the Maple Leafs beat the Carolina Hurricanes 1-0 last night to stay alive in the NHL Eastern Conference finals.
With assistant coach Rick Ley filling in behind the bench for ailing Pat Quinn who was released from a Toronto hospital when his ireegular heartbeat stabilized but was not allowed to travel here Toronto snapped Carolina's three-game winning streak and now returns to the Air Canada Centre for Tuesday night's Game 6 trailing 3-2 in the best-of-7 series. If necessary, Game 7 would be in North Carolina on Thursday night.
It was the fourth elimination game that the Leafs have won this postseason. Toronto won Game 7 against the New York Islanders in the first round and took Games 6 and 7 against Ottawa last round.
The Prince of Wales Trophy was in the arena, but Carolina couldn't clinch its first trip to the Stanley Cup finals despite playing desperate hockey in the third period the kind of play it could have used much earlier. A shot by Rod Brind'Amour with 17.3 seconds could have tied it, but the puck hit the post and spun out of the crease.
The Maple Leafs rallied to win their first two series over the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators in seven games and have gotten a host of injured players back in this series.
One of them was Tucker. His goal late in the first period on a power play was his third career postseason game-winner. Meanwhile, Joseph notched his third shutout of this postseason and 15th of his career to prolong a series many had believed would end.
Joseph didn't get much work in the first two periods but was sensational in the third, stopping 15 shots as Carolina poured it on offensively. He kept out a close-in attempt by Bates Battaglia 3:19 into the period, then frustrated Battaglia again with a diving stop six minutes later as the Maple Leafs backed into a defensive shell.
The record crowd of 19,016 was jacked up at the start of the game, but Carolina gave its rabid fans little to cheer about through two periods, throwing just 12 shots at Joseph.
The Hurricanes missed several opportunities to get back in the game when the Maple Leafs, undisciplined through most of the postseason, took four straight minor penalties over a 6-minute span in the middle of the second period. At one point, Carolina had a two-man advantage for 59 seconds, but didn't get a shot on goal.
Carolina's best scoring chance came midway through on a high-sticking penalty against Gary Roberts, but Joseph made a great sliding save on Bret Hedican's attempt from the left circle.
Neither team produced much offense in the first period just like throughout most of the series.
Joseph made the first key save when he stopped Battaglia's backhander on a 2-on-1 break with Erik Cole 10 minutes in.
Carolina was sloppy in its own end most of the period, and Toronto finally cashed in on the power play with 1:28 left as Bryan McCabe's shot bounced off Hurricanes' defenseman Sean Hill and Tucker's skate past Irbe. It was the first time in the five games that the Maple Leafs had scored first.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide