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Florida Panthers Angry After 3-1 Loss to Toronto

TORONTO – Scott Clemmensen made his first start of the season on Tuesday, and had he not collided with Toronto's Colton Orr during the third period, he might have come away with a win or at least a point.

Instead, Orr knocked Clemmensen to the ground before the puck slid by giving the host Maple Leafs a lead they would later extend as Toronto ended a three-game losing streak by beating the Panthers 3-1 at Air Canada Center.

Clemmensen argued with the officials to no avail; he said he was told that because he was out of the crease, he wasn't interfered with.

The Panthers saw things just a touch differently.

“It's obvious I don't know what goalie interference is,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. “I don't know what hitting from behind is, I don't know what interference is. I need to call the league and get myself a tutorial on what those penalties are because, if those aren't hits from behind in the first period on Kulikov and then goalie interference in the third period, then I obviously don't understand the description of the rules. I don't make that call.''

Said captain Bryan McCabe: “We all saw it was interference. Refs make mistakes once in a while and they missed the call. Obviously it's a game changer. It was a 1-1 game, probably going to overtime. They missed a call, blatant interference. Clemmer had no chance to stop that puck. What are you going to do.''

Toronto held a 1-0 lead after scoring on a Tyler Bozak goal late in the first period, but tied it up when defenseman Dennis Wideman fired a long shot from the top of the slot on a power play to beat Jean-Sebastien Giguere with 5:03 left in the second to tie things up.

Florida seemed to be getting the better of the Leafs in the third, putting a lot of pressure on Giguere, but with 8:58 left, the Leafs were able to keep the puck deep in the Florida zone and get the lead back. Fredrik Sjostrom dug the puck out off the back boards and sent it back to Tim Brent in the slot. His long shot hit Orr's skate as he and Clemmensen were tangled up, the puck going into the empty net.

“I don't believe it was a legitimate goal and I'm not going to sit here and embarrass anyone, but it should have been disallowed,'' said Clemmensen, who made 24 saves. “He tackles me to the ground then the puck goes into the open net. The replay clearly shows that. It changes the outlook of the game with eight minutes to play. Now we have to press and they end up scoring the third. It was a momentum changer. It's one thing to lose. It's another to lose like that.''

The Leafs made it 3-1 with 2:24 left when Phil Kessel picked off a loose puck at center ice as Wideman and the rest of the Panthers were pinching in deep. The Panthers argued that Cory Stillman was interfered with by Giguere, but, again, no call. Kessel got in front of Wideman, drove in on Clemmensen and shot high, beating the Florida goalie top shelf. And that was that.

“It is frustrating in a close game like that, but I've never been one to blame the refs,'' David Booth said. “Maybe there's something we could have done to prevent it. .-.-. Refs miss calls all the time. It's just unfortunate they missed that one.''

HOCKEY SMILE

Stephen Weiss had to visit a dentist before the team left South Florida on Monday after he had one of his front teeth knocked out after being struck by a puck during the team's win against the Islanders on Saturday.

Weiss is knocked some of his other teeth loose and had to have them repaired temporarily. On Tuesday, Weiss was wearing a small, clear plastic cage on his helmet that resembled a quarterback's face mask. He wasn't sure if he was going to wear the cage for the entire game but he did.

“I don't want something small like a face-wash to knock the loose ones out,'' said Weiss. “I think they can save them. I have to go back Monday and be in the chair for a few more hours. I can eat, not a huge steak or anything, but I can get by.''

-- With defenseman Jason Garrison back from a groin injury, Keaton Ellerby was sent back to the minors after playing in two games. Shawn Matthias (foot) was back at practice on Monday, but he was scratched on Tuesday.

“He needs to play instead of sitting in the stands here,'' DeBoer said regarding Ellerby. “He looks like a full time NHL player. He will be soon. You need depth at defense. This is short term. He'll be back here sooner than later.''

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