Leafs take the lead

Archived from 1998-99 season.

1999 Playoffs

Toronto series


Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs are one victory away from advancing to the Eastern Conference finals. The Maple Leafs defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 Saturday night to take a three games to two lead in the series.

"I think we played great defensively and we scored four goals," Leaf netminder Curtis Joseph said. "That could be one of the best games of the playoffs, if not the best."

One of the key factors was Toronto defenseman Dimitri Yushkevich, who shut down Penguin power-house Jaromir Jagr.

"My teammates helped cover for me, so it wasn't that hard," Yushkevich said. "I just tried to play against him like I play against anybody in the league, but always keeping in mind he's the best player in the world."

Strong physical play and goals by Sylvain Cote, Mike Johnson, Steve Thomas and Sergei Berezin brought the victory to the Maple Leafs. Jan Hrdina was credited for Pittsburgh's lone goal.

"We've been trying to get some traffic to the net and the first two goals were a direct result of that," said Johnson.

Pittsburgh coach Kevin Constantine said that the groin injury that kept Jagr sidelined early in the first round is still bothering him.

"I don't think Jaromir is 100 per cent healthy," Constantine said. "I'm sure part of his frustration is that he's such a proud guy and he's so competitive and he wants to do so well that when he can't physically get done what he can do because of the injury, it's frustrating."

The Penguins were also without Alexei Kovalev, who missed his second straight game with a foot injury.

"It's frustrating when we don't play with the same lines," Jagr said. "Hopefully he's going to be back next game and we're going to play a lot better than we did tonight."

"They were the better team from the first minute. They have a great goalie and when you get down two goals to a team like that it's tough to come back. They deserved to win. We didn't want to be down 3-2 in this series. We were up 2-1. It's tough."

Game 6 is Monday night in Pittsburgh, and the Leafs can finish off the Penguins then.

"We have a lot of positives to carry over to Pittsburgh," said Maple Leafs forward Garry Valk.

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