PANTHERS 4, MAPLE LEAFS 1
BY GEORGE RICHARDS
Panthers coach Pete DeBoer said he has fond memories of playing for Toronto coach Ron Wilson in the minor leagues back in the day, but that doesn't mean he was going to help take the heat off his former bench boss on Wednesday night.
DeBoer and the Panthers continued Toronto's misery as the Leafs continue to struggle. Florida's 4-1 win at BankAtlantic Center was Toronto's seventh straight loss.
Since winning four straight to start the season, the Leafs have won just one of their past 11. Their only win during that span was a disputed 3-1 victory over the Panthers on Oct. 26.
“We've been guilty in the past of not putting teams away,'' DeBoer said. “Give the Leafs credit, they played a hard game. We knew they would be desperate with all the things you hear like team meetings and the losing streak. They worked hard and made us work hard for a win.''
The Panthers put the heat on Toronto early on as the suddenly offensive-defenseman Bryan Allen scored by whipping a long slap shot past Jonas Gustavsson midway through the opening period. Allen, who came into the season with 10 goals in 231 games with the Panthers, has two goals and three assists in his past four games this season.
The Leafs, playing for the second straight night after losing 4-0 in Tampa on Tuesday, kept it close although the Panthers never were in much danger. In the seocnd, Steven Reinprecht scored the first of two power play goals for the Panthers. Florida came into the night with just three power play goals all year.
Florida all but put the game away in the third when Shawn Matthias – moved from center to wing on Tuesday – took a pass from Michael Frolik at center ice and walked in on Gustavsson and scored his third of the season. Matthias returned the favor later in the period as he fed Frolik from the slot and Frolik got his fourth of the season. It was the first time the Panthers had two power play goals in one game this season.
“We know each other a little bit and pass it a lot to each other,'' Frolik said. “He made a great play there, saw me out there. He's big and fast. We just have to keep this going.''
Florida's penalty kill units were strong again as the Panthers killed off five penalties and now sport a success rate of 90 percent.
TALLON ON TEAM USA
Dale Tallon was born and raised in Quebec, but he's been more than Americanized. Drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in 1970, Tallon was traded to Chicago in 1973 and he has been a fixture in U.S. hockey ever since.
Tallon, who became an American citizen in 1993, was named to the national advisory committee for Team USA on Thursday. He joins American-born NHL executives Brian Burke, Paul Holmgren, Dean Lombardi, Ray Shero and Don Waddell. The group is in charge of selecting players for the U.S. national team. Tallon and Nashville general manager David Poile (Toronto) are the only Canadian-born members of the selection committee.
“I am excited. It's an honor and a privilege. It's a challenge, but it's going to be a lot of fun,'' said Tallon. “I'm an American. I have my citizenship and I'm proud to be an American. I'm thrilled they asked me and I can't wait to do it.''
-- Defenseman Dennis Wideman took a puck off his face on the opening shift and needed to be attended to. Wideman returned soon afterward.
-- Former Panthers goalie John Vanbiesbrouck was honored before Wednesday's game and signed autographs for fans in the Den of Honor during the first intermission. Vanbiesbrouck was inducted into the Broward County Sports Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday night.
Oddly enough, the two football players inducted – South Broward's Danny McManus and Nova's Autry Denson – played professionally in Canada. The hockey player did not. Vanbiesbrouck spent 18 seasons in the NHL and played for the Rangers, Panthers, Flyers, Islanders and Devils.
“How that worked out, only the Lord knows,'' Vanbiesbrouck said with a laugh.
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Toronto Maple Leafs Lose Seventh Straight, Panthers Win 4-1 ... Cats Get TWO! Power Play Goals ... PK Kills Off Five
PANTHERS 4, MAPLE LEAFS 1