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Nolan Brings Leafs Back

Monday, 29.12.2003 / 10:19 PM / News
Toronto Maple Leafs
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Nolan Brings Leafs Back
December 29, 2003
Scoring | Statistics

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- The Florida Panthers thought Toronto got lucky. The Maple Leafs believed they simply started playing better hockey.

Owen Nolan scored two third-period goals to help Toronto rally for a 4-4 tie with the Florida on Monday night.

"We played a great third period," Toronto captain Mats Sundin said. "We showed a lot of character and heart. We looked really tired in the second period, we didn't have a lot of energy and we made a lot of mistakes."

Nolan began Toronto's comeback with a power-play goal at 7:57 of the third when he tipped in Bryan McCabe's wrist shot, then tied it with 2:17 left in regulation when he batted a loose puck out of the air to the side of goalie Roberto Luongo.

"The last three goals were all batted up in the air," Luongo said. "I've never seen anything like that. I think they got lucky."

Darcy Tucker and Nik Antropov also scored for Toronto, which had its franchise-record 16-game point streak snapped by the New York Islanders on Saturday. The Maple Leafs are 14-1-2-1 in their last 18.

"The last couple of games we've been trying to win the game on talent alone," Nolan said. "We had a little talk after the second period and we came out hard."

Nathan Horton, Viktor Kozlov, Pavel Trnka and Juraj Kolnik scored for the Panthers, who extended their home unbeaten streak to six (3-0-3).

The Maple Leafs beat Florida 5-2 six days earlier in Toronto.

Toronto's Ed Belfour finished with 35 saves. Luongo stopped 34 shots.

"The one goal I thought was a lucky goal," Florida coach Rick Dudley said, referring to Nolan's tying score. "You don't pick it out of the air like that. It was great hand-eye coordination, but how many times would you do it?"

The Panthers outshot Toronto 19-7 in the second period to snap a 1-1 tie and grab a 4-2 lead.

Trnka made it 3-2 with his second goal of the season after Belfour stopped Olli Jokinen's wrist shot from the side of the net. Trnka banged in the rebound from the goal mouth.

Trnka's other goal this season was also against Toronto.

Kolnik extended the lead at 16:08 of the second when he stole the puck near the blue line and beat Belfour with a high slap shot.

Kozlov gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead at 2:22 of the second with a power-play goal.

Antropov tied it 2-2 at 4:19 of the second when he tipped Alexei Ponikarovsky's beautiful cross-ice pass past Luongo.

Horton opened the scoring at 7:14 of the first by putting in the rebound of Andreas Lilja's slap shot from the point.

"I'd like to have the first goal back, I'd like to have the third goal back ... I'd like to have them all back," Belfour said.

Tucker tied it with 1:54 left in the first by scoring for the third consecutive game. After Luongo stopped Owen Nolan's shot as he skated in from behind the net, Tucker knocked the rebound over Luongo's left shoulder.

Game notes: Luongo's assist on Kozlov's goal was the first for a Florida goalie since Luongo had one against Detroit on Feb. 27, 2002. ... As part of Canada Day at the game, the Panthers accepted Canadian currency as equal to U.S. currency for those buying tickets. ... The crowd, announced as a sellout with 19,250 in attendance, was partisan to the Maple Leafs. ... Florida LW Darcy Hordichuk returned after missing 21 games because of a broken foot. ... Toronto D Tomas Kaberle returned after missing five games because of a shoulder injury. ... Florida acquired D Wade Brookbank from Ottawa for future considerations.

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