Maple Leafs leave Florida with 7th straight loss
BankAtlantic Center — Sunrise, Fla.
Tomas Vokoun (FLA) — 31 saves
Michael Frolik (FLA) — 1G, 2A
The Toronto Maple Leafs won't be filled with sunny memories when they return home after a two-game tour of Florida.
Toronto picked up its seventh-straight loss Wednesday, a 4-1 defeat at the hands of the Florida Panthers, one night after taking a shutout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The only blemish on Tomas Vokoun's 31-save performance was a Mikhail Grabovski goal late in the third period to break up Vokoun's shutout bid as well as the Maple Leafs' goal drought.
The Leafs (5-7-3) may have recorded a goal — their first in more than 142 minutes of play — but it didn't happen until the game was more than decided.
Even during the height of the Leafs' offensive pressure and the game was still within reach, the only thing they managed to sneak past Vokoun was the sprawled body of Phil Kessel.
"We had our chances and you can see the frustration mounting in our guys. We're getting enough shots, we're getting enough chances," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said.
"It becomes psychological, it gets in your head. Sometimes we're so tight we don't see an open corner, the five-hole or anything like that."
At the other end of the ice, Toronto may have won the battle of big hits by the defensive corps, but it was that group that was victimized on each of the Panthers' goals.
A one-on-one battle between the Panthers top centre and one of the Leafs' struggling D-men resulted in the game's opening goal. Stephen Weiss raced along the sideboards into the Toronto zone but lost the handle after slipping it through the legs of Carl Gunnarsson.
Leafs goalie Jonas Gustavsson shot the puck away as it slowly slid toward his crease, but Panthers' defender Bryan Allen intercepted the clearing attempt and fired a slapshot past a screened Gustavsson for the 1-0 lead.
The Panthers' Steven Reinprecht had a little help from Gunnarsson for Florida's second goal — a Dennis Wideman shot deflected off the Toronto defender at the top of the Maple Leaf crease and Reinprecht was there to shovel the puck into an open net.
After that Reinprecht tally, the Leafs seemed deflated for the rest of the period and watched as Gustavsson was bombarded.
The third period was no less kind to Gustavsson, as his defencemen were pinching in the Florida zone and weren't able to cover Mississauga, Ont., native Shawn Matthias, who was sprung on a breakaway and shot five-hole for the three-goal advantage.
"All my buddies, family and friends were probably watching," Matthias said."It's nice to beat those guys, especially how the last game ended up, and we wanted to win this one for everyone."
The Panthers' Michael Frolik and Grabovski traded goals in a span of 41 seconds late in the third period to keep the Florida lead at three but break up the Toronto goal drought.
With files from The Associated Press