Panthers Surprise Maple Leafs 3-1
TORONTO (AP) — Tomas Fleischmann, Sean Bergenheim and Brad Boyes scored and the Florida Panthers topped the slumping Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 on Wednesday night.
The Panthers won their fourth straight game and won for the sixth time in their past seven. Their last loss came Dec. 8 at the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
The Leafs were playing the second half of back-to-back games. They lost to Pittsburgh on Monday night. Turnovers led to each of the Panthers’ goals.
Mason Raymond scored for Toronto.
Florida goaltender Scott Clemmensen made 28 saves for the victory.
James Reimer gave up three goals on 23 shots, and the Leafs lost for the fifth time in their past six games.
Jonathan Huberdeau was out with a foot injury for the Panthers.
Forward Nazem Kadri was the first Leafs player to make a costly error. He lost the puck at the Panthers blue line. And seconds later, Fleischmann had a jump on Carl Gunnarsson and beat Reimer to make it 1-0 just 3:29 into the first.
The Leafs had another miscue in the second. Defenseman Jake Gardiner put the puck right on Bergenheim’s stick, but Reimer made a stop to keep the threat at bay.
When the Leafs couldn’t clear it, Bergenheim got it back in front and scored 5:54 into the second.
Captain Dion Phaneuf had a turnover that contributed to the Panthers third goal. Boyes poked the puck away from Phaneuf and scored seconds later on his own rebound thanks to some help from Bergenheim in front.
The Leafs cut it to 3-1 not long after on their most opportunistic play. Center Peter Holland, filling in with injuries to Dave Bolland and Tyler Bozak, held onto the puck long enough to get some traffic in front, and Raymond tipped the puck past Clemmensen 3:43 into the third.
Raymond’s 11th goal of the season seemed to spark the Leafs, who showed more of a push than they had in the previous 43-plus minutes.
Coach Randy Carlyle tried what he could to prod more from his team, such as double-shifting Phil Kessel.
With the victory, the Panthers moved within six points of the Leafs in the wild-card race in the Eastern Conference. This was their third victory in the past two weeks against a team being featured on HBO’s “24/7″ program.
Florida beat the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 7 and Dec. 10.
NOTES: Huberdeau missed his second straight game with a foot injury. … Winger David Clarkson returned to the Leafs’ lineup after serving his two-game suspension for an illegal hit on St. Louis forward Vladimir Sobotka. Clarkson, who has just six points in 23 games, picked up his 10th minor penalty of the season.
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