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Game Recap

Homestand Ends With Loss To Cats

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

The Canadian Press

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Homestand Ends With Loss To Cats
Florida Panthers 5, Toronto Maple Leafs 3
Three Stars of the Game
Mike Santorelli
Mike Santorelli
G: 2Shots: 4
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 13:29
Marcel Goc
G: 1Shots: 4
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 2TOI: 15:37
Jason Garrison
Jason Garrison
G: 1Shots: 1
A: 0Hits: 1
PTS: 1PIM: 4
+/-: 0TOI: 22:31

TORONTO -- Another season is slipping away from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Chants of ``Fire Wilson!'' echoed through Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night as the Florida Panthers put the finishing touches on a 5-3 win over the sinking Maple Leafs, an all-too-familiar outcome for frustrated fans in Toronto. It was the ninth loss in 10 games for a team general manager Brian Burke decided against tinkering with ahead of Monday's trade deadline.

Even Wilson couldn't blame the fans for calling for his job.

``It's frustrating, but understandable,'' he said. ``We didn't do anything at the trade deadline and we came out tentative to say the least. We talked ad nauseum to the team about the (last) 20 games and finding our focus and we weren't ready to start the game.''

That was painfully evident with the score 1-0 just 13 seconds in. Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn let the puck slip off his stick right after the opening faceoff - ``I messed up there pretty bad,'' he said later - before Marcel Goc one-timed a shot past James Reimer.

The hole got bigger two minutes later when Mike Santorelli finished off a 2-on-1 and put the Leafs behind 2-0 for the fifth straight game. ``We're embarrassed to go out there and play like that in front of our home fans,'' said Schenn.

Toronto owns the NHL's second-longest playoff drought at seven years - behind only the Panthers - and Florida is currently in position to end its run of futility. There was no disguising the importance of Tuesday's game for either franchise and the visitors were full marks for the victory.

Santorelli finished with two goals while Goc, Jason Garrison and Stephen Weiss each added one for Florida (30-20-12). Jose Theodore finished with 28 saves.

``Look at how close the standings are, every point is so important,'' said Santorelli. ``This was a big win for us.''

Phil Kessel, Nikolai Kulemin and Joffrey Lupul replied for the Maple Leafs (29-27-7), who sit four points of playoff position in the Eastern Conference despite going 1-8-1 since Feb. 7.

Burke and Wilson were each hopeful that the passing of the trade deadline would ease some of the burden on the group. There was no evidence of that against Florida.

``It was a tough month for guys in our room - that's not an excuse, that's the reality of playing in big market like Toronto,'' said captain Dion Phaneuf. ``There's a lot of media coverage, there's a lot of rumours and as a group a lot of guys had a lot more stress than they probably needed.''

This one was particularly difficult for Reimer, the embattled goaltender who couldn't really be faulted for the shoddy play in front of him. His first save of the game came almost 11 minutes in - he was cheered sarcastically - as the Panthers looked set on protecting the early advantage.

``Earlier in the game, we didn't do anything to help him,'' said Wilson.

Toronto briefly had some life after Kessel scored his 32nd goal of the season midway through the second period, but Clarke MacArthur was sent off for a penalty soon after and Santorelli converted a rebound to make it 3-1.

The mood turned ugly after Garrison scored his 14th of the season at 4:38 of the third period to extend the advantage. That set off the first round of chants calling for Wilson's job, something two local columnists have put in print recently. Burke tried to quell that talk with a vote of confidence for his coach on Monday, but it clearly didn't soothe the paying customers.

``Every guy is embarrassed, it's tough to go through a game like that,'' said Schenn. ``Whether you're not getting the bounces or the breaks or things just aren't clicking _ you can make any excuse you want but it's definitely not fun right now.''

The Wilson chants were renewed after Kulemin and Weiss traded goals 61 seconds apart and only subsided in the waning minutes because fans cleared out of the building en masse. The Leafs had little time to recuperate with a game in Chicago on Wednesday night.

They desperately need to do something to turn the tide.

``Yeah, you do get exasperated and you get frustrated,'' said Wilson. ``But tomorrow's a new day, the sun will probably come up and we've got to pull up our bootstraps and get going.''

Notes: Wilson coached his 1,400th career NHL game, tying him with Pat Quinn for fourth on the all-time list ... The Panthers were missing leading scorer Kris Versteeg to a lower-body injury ... Toronto scratched Colby Armstrong and Cody Franson ... Florida is 11-2-2 against Canadian teams this season. It visits Winnipeg on Thursday ... Announced attendance was 19,420.
scoring summary
1st Period
Marcel Goc (6) ASST: Wojtek Wolski (4)
1 - 0 FLA
Mike Santorelli (8) ASST: Jack Skille (5), Erik Gudbranson (4)
2 - 0 FLA
2nd Period
PPG - Phil Kessel (32) ASST: Dion Phaneuf (26), Joffrey Lupul (40)
2 - 1 FLA
PPG - Mike Santorelli (9) ASST: Tomas Fleischmann (26), Brian Campbell (39)
3 - 1 FLA
3rd Period
PPG - Jason Garrison (14) ASST: NONE
4 - 1 FLA
Nikolay Kulemin (7) ASST: Mikhail Grabovski (23), Dion Phaneuf (27)
4 - 2 FLA
Stephen Weiss (16) ASST: Sean Bergenheim (5)
5 - 2 FLA
PPG - Joffrey Lupul (24) ASST: Phil Kessel (35), Dion Phaneuf (28)
5 - 3 FLA
penalty summary
1st Period
John Madden  Holding the stick against  Jake Gardiner
2nd Period
Joffrey Lupul  Hooking against  Brian Campbell
Sean Bergenheim  Interference against  Tim Connolly
Stephen Weiss  Interference on goalkeeper against  James Reimer
Clarke MacArthur  Boarding against  Keaton Ellerby
3rd Period
Jason Garrison  Hooking against  Tyler Bozak
John-Michael Liles  Interference against  Wojtek Wolski
Dion Phaneuf  Tripping against  Sean Bergenheim
Jason Garrison  Slashing against  Mike Brown
goalie stats
Jose Theodore
Jose Theodore
SA: 31TOI: 60:00
Saves: 28EV: 25 - 26
PIM: 0PP: 2 - 4
SV%: .903SH: 1 - 1
James Reimer
James Reimer
SA: 23TOI: 57:45
Saves: 18EV: 11 - 14
PIM: 0PP: 7 - 9
SV%: .783SH: 0 - 0
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