Maple Leafs end goal drought, suffer 5th straight loss
Panthers maintain Southeast Division lead with 5-2 win
The Florida Panthers don't have any trouble scoring against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Sean Bergenheim scored twice and the Panthers beat the Maple Leafs 5-2 on Tuesday night. Florida has won all four meetings with Toronto this season, scoring five goals each time and outscoring the Leafs 20-9.
"I can't explain against the Leafs what the difference is," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "Sometimes during the course of a season you find a way to get a team's number. Very fortunate for us this has been one of those teams."
Marcel Goc and Tomas Kopecky had power-play goals in the third period, Jason Garrison also scored and Jose Theodore stopped 26 shots for the Panthers. Wojtek Wolski had two assists and Bergeneim now has a career-high 16 goals this season.
Mikhail Grabovski and Tyler Bozak scored for the Maple Leafs and James Reimer made 22 saves. The Maple Leafs lost for the 15th time in 17 games (2-13-2).
"Penalty killing has been one of our strong suits in the last little while and it sprung a leak tonight," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "You can't give up five goals and expect to win in the NHL."
The Panthers remained atop the Southeast Division, one point ahead of Washington - which beat the New York Islanders in a shootout.
With Florida leading 2-1, Kopecky tipped Garrison's shot from the high slot past Reimer at 6:07 for the Panthers' second goal in 20 power-play chances, spanning seven games.
Florida did it again nearly 4 1/2 minutes later when Goc sent the puck over Reimer's shoulder from in front at 10:28 to increase the lead to three goals.
"We knew the power play needed to put up the momentum, if not some goals," Garrison said. "We kept things simple and just tried to put pucks on net and we were able to create some stuff out there."
Grabovski pulled the Leafs to 4-2 when he poked in the rebound of a shot by Luke Schenn with 6:10 to go.
Bergenheim sealed it with his second goal of the game, an empty-netter with 1:20 remaining.
The Panthers scored just 59 seconds into the game. Keaton Ellerby took a shot from above the left circle and Mikael Samuelsson tipped it towards the net and it bounced off Reimer and out to his left, where Bergenheim swept in the loose puck.
Garrison's goal in the second stretched the lead to 2-0. Goc passed from the right circle and Garrison tipped it in at with 5:17 left for his 15th goal of the season. Garrison is now tied for the Panthers' franchise record for most goals in a season by a defenceman with Jay Bouwmeester (2008-09 and 2007-08) and Bryan McCabe (2008-09).
Toronto pulled within one as Bozak wristed in the a rebound of a shot by Clarke MacArthur with 58 seconds left in the second. It was the first goal the Leafs scored since Carl Gunnarsson on March 7 at Pittsburgh, a span of 196 minutes, 26 seconds.
Reimer played for the first time since Feb. 28, also against Florida.
"I felt prepared, felt ready," Reimer said. "It was just unfortunate the way it went."
|Eastern Playoff Race||Pts.||GR||ROW|
|8. Washington Capitals||78||12||34|
|9. Buffalo Sabres||74||12||26|
|10. Winnipeg Jets||72||13||28|
|11. Tampa Bay Lightning||71||13||30|
|12. Toronto Maple Leafs||68||12||27|