Alexander the Great
Mogilny's two goals send Leafs into conference finalsPosted: Tuesday May 14, 2002 10:01 PM
Updated: Tuesday May 14, 2002 11:50 PM
Mogilny was at it again Tuesday night, scoring twice in a 3-0 victory over Ottawa that advanced the Maple Leafs to the Eastern Conference finals.
It was the second straight seven-game series' victory for Toronto, which eliminated the New York Islanders with a 4-2 Game 7 win in the opening round. And it's the second straight Game 7 in which Mogilny has scored twice.
While the Air Canada Centre was still buzzing with "Go Leafs Go" chants, Mogilny almost sounded subdued.
"I don't understand what the fuss is all about," Mogilny said. "There's a bigger hurdle coming up. I don't know why everybody's so excited. The last time I checked you have to win four series."
Perhaps, the excitement comes because almost everyone counted out the banged-up and weary Maple Leafs, who were missing six regulars, including captain Mats Sundin (broken wrist), and were playing their 12th game in 22 days.
"Whenever we face adversity, we don't pack it in at all," center Alyn McCauley said. "It seems the longer the series goes on, the longer the game goes on, the stronger we get. I don't know if that's the team character or conditioning, but it seems that way.
"Maybe we're just the marathon runners and not the sprint runners."
The same cannot be said about the Senators, who continued to live down to their reputation of folding under playoff pressure, blowing a 3-2 series advantage, and squandering leads in its three previous games -- including a 2-0 lead in an eventual 4-3 loss in Game 6 on Sunday.
This is also a Senators franchise that has never advanced past the second round, dropped to 0-2 in Game 7s, and has now been eliminated in three straight playoffs by Toronto.
"Failure to get it done. We had them on the ropes a few times," Ottawa defenseman Wade Redden said. "You can look back at a number of things throughout the series. We had them 2-1 at home, and Game 6 at home, and we couldn't. ..."
Redden's voice then trailed off.
"When we've got them by the throat, we've got to make sure we get them down," he said.
Mogilny opened the scoring with a power-play goal 11:49 into the second period.
Waiting with the puck in the right corner, Mogilny attempted to thread a pass through the middle to McCabe, who was sneaking in from the point. Instead, Mogilny's pass hit the side of Ottawa defender Sami Salo's skate, and bounced in.
Kaberle's cross-ice pass found Mogilny, who lifted a shot over diving Ottawa goalie Patrick Lalime.
McCabe sealed the win with 5:56 left.
The Senators displayed little of the poise and jump they had in the previous six games. Ottawa came out tentatively, and then proved even flatter in the second period when the Senators set a franchise playoff low in being limited to one shot on goal.
And that wasn't much of a shot when Salo's wrister from the right boards was easily stopped by Joseph with 1:02 left in the period.
The one shot allowed matched a Maple Leafs playoff record set against Los Angeles on May 17, 1993.
Ottawa finally started to press early in the third period, but were then foiled by Joseph, who recorded his second shutout of the postseason and 14th of his career, tying Jacques Plante for third on the all-time list.
Joseph's best stops came 90 seconds into the third period, when he got his right pad on Salo's shot from the point that was deflected in front. Seconds later, Joseph stopped another shot by Salo, and covered up the puck before Shawn McEachern could jam in the rebound.
Mogilny, who also scored the game-winner in Game 6, now has five goals in games when Toronto faces elimination this postseason.
And yet he still refused to be referred to as a clutch performer.
"I never was," Mogilny said, when asked if he considered himself a clutch player. "I'm just a hockey player. I'm not Steve Yzerman or Mario Lemieux. I'm Alex Mogilny. ... I accept who I am and I'm just trying to be part of the group."
Notes: The Maple Leafs were playing their 106th playoff game since 1993, fourth among NHL teams. Colorado leads all teams over that span, with 130 games. ... Toronto advanced to the conference final for only the fourth time since 1968 and first since 1999. ... Led by Jyrki Lumme, with six, the Leafs had 15 players that have played in a Game 7. The Senators, in comparison, had only seven players -- led by McEachern's four -- with Game 7 experience.