NHL Game Summary - Toronto at Florida
Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - Kris Versteeg and Jason Garrison each scored a power play goal as the Panthers topped the Maple Leafs, 5-3, at BankAtlantic Center.
Erik Gudbranson, Tomas Fleischmann and Bill Thomas also lit the lamp for Florida, which snapped a three-game skid.
Brian Campbell tallied three assists and Jose Theodore stopped 29-of-32 shots.
Mikhail Grabovski scored two goals and Dion Phaneuf netted the other goal for Toronto, which had a two-game winning streak broken.
"We had a couple of real major mistakes by the defense," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said.
The Panthers jumped out to a 1-0 lead just 1:57 into the game after Gudbranson ripped a slapshot past Toronto goaltender James Reimer.
Toronto evened the score early in the second period when Grabovski sent a wrister past Theodore, but the Panthers came back with another goal. Evgenii Dadonov found Thomas, who wristed the puck past Reimer for his first goal of the season.
Florida then took advantage of two power plays.
Less than two minutes after Thomas scored, Garrison blasted a one-timer to the back of the net with Keith Aulie in the box for cross-checking.
That goal came at 4:13, and at 5:14 Grabovski was called for slashing. The Panthers again cashed in on the power play opportunity when Versteeg beat Reimer with a wrister to give Florida a 4-1 advantage.
"I think that's what we were really looking for. They are a really good hockey team. We're so respectful of the talent and that's not just blabber after the game," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. "We were really worried about the speed and the skill that they have. Sometimes a best defense is a good offense. They really have so much layers on the rush that if you can do a good job on the defensive side you can create on the offense and I think that's what we did."
The Versteeg goal spelled the end for Reimer, who allowed three goals on eight shots before he was pulled for Jonas Gustavsson.
Toronto shaved its deficit to 4-2 when Phaneuf beat Theodore at 9:34 of the middle frame, his fifth goal of the season. The Leafs then pulled within one with just more than 10 minutes to play after Grabovski scored a power play goal. Clarke MacArthur blasted a snap shot that was deflected by a Florida defender before Grabovksi snuck it by Theodore.
But Fleischmann answered about two minutes later with an insurance goal.
Toronto had several opportunities to score down the stretch, but the Panthers defense held strong to secure the win.