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Back To Back Losses For Leafs

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- James Reimer's injury status is about to take on even more importance for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The team was booed by its home fans for a second straight game after Jonas Gustavsson surrendered three soft goals during a 5-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.

It was the eighth straight game the Leafs were playing without Reimer, who is still experiencing concussion-like symptoms after getting hit by Habs captain Brian Gionta on Oct. 22. The team has provided no timetable for his return.

They were able to get by initially with Gustavsson and third-stringer Ben Scrivens, but haven't played with much confidence in front of either over the last week.

It certainly hasn't helped that Toronto's offence has been ice cold _ the team endured a scoreless streak of 137 minutes 59 seconds before Phil Kessel scored his league-leading 11th goal in the third period once the game was already out of reach.

Jack Skille, Marco Sturm, Tomas Kopecky, Sean Bergenheim and Shawn Matthias had the goals for Florida (7-4-3), which is off to its best start since 1999-2000.

Kessel replied for Toronto (9-5-1).

The Leafs were looking to bounce back after being hammered 7-0 by Boston on Saturday night, but Gustavsson spotted the visitors an early lead. Skille had a wide open net for his first goal of the season at 9:45 after the Leafs goaltender slid well out of his crease.

Toronto looked poised to tie the game during a strong start to the second period that forced Panthers coach Kevin Dineen to call a timeout.

Instead, goals 19 seconds apart chased Gustavsson and made it 3-0 Florida. On the first one, Gustavsson mishandled the puck behind his goal and Sturm cashed in at 16:28 before Kopecky beat him on a rush that developed out of the ensuing faceoff.

Fans cheered when Leafs coach Ron Wilson sent Scrivens in to replace him.

The rookie had a couple good moments - stopping former Leaf Kris Versteeg on a breakaway - but allowed goals to Bergenheim and Matthias in the third period. He might earn his third NHL start for Toronto's next game in St. Louis on Thursday night.

In the meantime, the focus will be on Reimer's status, which has been largely kept under wraps. The team's No. 1 goaltender has only made five appearances this season.

Everyone around the Leafs has repeatedly preached the importance of avoiding the long losing streaks that have plagued them during six straight seasons out of the post-season. Tuesday's game was their third consecutive poor effort and second loss in a row - by a combined score of 12-1.

Notes: Leafs rookie forward Matt Frattin was minus-2 through 40 minutes in his first game since being recalled from the AHL ... Cody Franson, Jay Rosehill and Colton Orr were scratched for Toronto ... Rookie defenceman Erik Gudbranson sat out a third straight game for the Panthers ... Announced attendance was 19,414.
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