NHL Game Summary - Toronto at Florida
(Thursday, January 18th)
Final Score: Toronto 3, Florida 2
Sunrise, FL (Sports Network) - John Pohl tallied the game-winning marker in the second period, and the Toronto Maple Leafs held off a late rally by Florida, skating off with a 3-2 victory at BankAtlantic Center.
Trailing by three, the Panthers finally lit the lamp just 1:12 into the final period, as Gregory Campbell got credit for the tip-in off a chance by Joel Kwiatkowski to make it a 3-1 contest.
Toronto continued to struggle in the final stanza, recording just one shot on goal with more than 9 1/2 minutes remaining in the contest.
The Panthers, meanwhile, cut their deficit to one around the midway point, as Stephen Weiss ripped a shot toward the net that was redirected by Ville Peltonen, and Toronto netminder Andrew Raycroft couldn't come up with the save.
Florida's rally was cut short with 29.6 seconds remaining, however, as the team had a goal waved off because Martin Gelinas was called for a hand pass. Gelinas nabbed the puck in mid-air as it ricocheted off the back boards, threw it down in the crease and watched it trickle over the goal line.
"We played OK in the first, not too bad in the second, and we really played poorly in the third," said Pohl. "They played really well, and we got pretty lucky to get out of here with a win. We owe that one to 'Razor' (goaltender Andrew Raycroft) for sure."
Alex Auld absorbed the loss for the Panthers, who have dropped five of seven. Auld surrendered all three goals while facing just 14 shots over two periods. He was then pulled in favor of Ed Belfour, who turned aside five chances the rest of the way.
"We've got to play more desperate for 60-minutes," said Gelinas. "Obviously we played a great third period, but we came up short. This is a team we're chasing to make the playoffs. It's very unfortunate."
Boyd Devereaux and Chad Kilger had the other goals for the Leafs, who have won five of their last eight games while extending their road winning streak to four straight. Raycroft finished with 39 saves between the pipes.
The Leafs drew first blood just seconds after the Panthers managed to kill off their four-minute power play in the first period. Kilger was instrumental in the score, as he won the race to the loose puck behind the net, then got just enough of the disc to poke it out in front of the crease. Devereaux was all alone, took the feed, and quickly fired the puck past Auld on the glove side for the 1-0 edge at 12:14.
Kilger then doubled the margin just a tick shy of six minutes into the middle stanza, as the Panthers' Mike Van Ryn went down just as the team was in the middle of a line change. With the Maple Leafs on the odd-man rush, Kilger picked up speed, collected a quick pass from Matt Stajan and rifled a slapshot underneath Auld on the short side to make it 2-0.
The Panthers continued to loose battles deep in their own zone, and Toronto made them pay a short time later. Stephen Weiss lost control of the puck behind the net, and Pohl ended up with the disc, flipping a backhand shot past Auld at 10:41. The tally was Pohl's eighth of the season and allowed the Leafs to open a 3-0 margin.
"We were taking on water (at the end), but our goaltender made some saves and that's what you need to have happen," said Toronto head coach Paul Maurice. "We got a road win, and a tough one. They (Florida) needed that game, they felt, and they played very, very hard."
Toronto right wing Darcy Tucker hoped to return to the lineup, but sat out his seventh straight game with a foot injury...Jozef Stumpel returned for the Panthers after missing the last couple games with an upper body injury... The teams have split four meetings this season...Florida's Olli Jokinen had his seven-game scoring streak snapped. He had compiled seven goals and four assists during the tear...Neither team scored on the power play. Toronto had three opportunities, while Florida had two.
01/19 00:34:35 ET