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Florida doubles up Leafs

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
SUNRISE, Florida (Ticker) -- Defenseman Bret Hedican recorded a career-high four points and Roberto Luongo made 30 saves to lead the Florida Panthers to a 4-2 victory over the suddenly slumping Toronto Maple Leafs.

Hedican scored twice and set up Florida's other two goals. He got the eventual game-winner seven minutes into the second period, sending a rising slap shot from the high slot past goaltender Curtis Joseph.

"It's just one of those things you can't explain," Hedican said. "I'm going to sit back and think about what I did today, like what I ate for lunch, and do the same thing for the rest of my career. I've been shooting the puck a lot more in practice, shooting the puck more in the games. Tonight, it paid off."

Hedican opened the scoring with just over five minutes to go in the first period. Pavel Bure faked a shot at the right side of the crease before sending a pass through traffic to Hedican in the slot, where he scored on a one-timer.

"He was shooting the puck with authority, and like many players in the league with these new (graphite) sticks, it gives them a lot more zip on his shot," Panthers coach Mike Keenan said. "His release is quicker and I think that is going to help us."

Chased from Friday's 7-1 loss to Boston after taking a shot to the head, Luongo held the high-powered Maple Leafs to a single goal until Mats Sundin scored shorthanded in the final minute.

Bure capped the Panthers' scoring on a 4-on-3 power play 11 minutes into the third period, ending a six-game drought. He also picked up a pair of assists.

"When goal-scorers are pressing, it's a burden to them," Keenan said of Bure. "But he's played well, played strong and played hard for us defensively, and he's going to get his goals. He's been a little snake-bitten recently, but they'll come for him."

Marcus Nilson also tallied for Florida, which has earned points in six of 11 games since Keenan replaced Duane Sutter behind the bench.

Defenseman Bryan McCabe scored Toronto's other goal by stuffing the puck under Luongo's pads during a 4-on-3 advantage with just under two minutes to go in the opening period.

The Leafs struggled to generate offense over the final two periods and failed to covert any of three power plays during that stretch.

"We've got to get back to some basics. We're not getting any bounces," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. "We had some real good chances early on and didn't put them away. We've got to get goals out of the game somehow."

Joseph made 27 saves but is just 1-2-1 in his last four games.

The Leafs played with a shortened bench in the third period after losing left wing Shayne Corson and defenseman Cory Cross to injuries. Left wing Gary Roberts received a major penalty and a game misconduct midway through the third for elbowing defenseman Robert Svehla.

Toronto suffered its season-high third straight loss and has just one win in its last six games (1-4-1).

"I don't know if tailspin is the right word. Not doing the right things and not playing as well as we can is more appropriate," Joseph said. "But I am confident we'll get it turned around."

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