January 30, 2006
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- Darcy Tucker was just happy that his Toronto Maple Leafs found a way to win.
Tucker and Jeff O'Neill scored on two-man advantages in the third period to help the Maple Leafs beat the Florida Panthers 4-2 on Monday night and snap an eight-game losing streak.
"We didn't play overly well tonight in some areas,'' Tucker said. "We've got to stay out of the penalty box and stuff like that, but we found a way to win and maybe that's going to help us down the road.''
Kyle Wellwood also had a power-play goal for Toronto in its first victory since Jan. 7 against Edmonton. The eight-game losing streak was two short of the team record.
Chad Kilger added a goal, Matt Sundin had three assists and Ed Belfour made 33 saves, including 30 in the first two periods.
"Once you have a losing streak like we had, you question every aspect of your game,'' Sundin said. "We think we have a good hockey team. When we come out of something like this, I think it makes you better.''
Olli Jokinen and Joe Nieuwendyk scored for Florida, which lost at home in regulation for the first time in 11 games (7-1-3).
Roberto Luongo made 28 saves.
"Their power play cashed in and our PK didn't make the stops and it was the opposite on the other end,'' said Nieuwendyk, who played for Toronto in 2003-04. "It was a special-teams battle and we just didn't have the effort we needed.''
Toronto beat Florida for the third time in three meetings this season. The Maple Leafs won the first two games by 2-1 scores.
Tucker gave Toronto a 3-1 lead at 2:16 of the third period, grabbing a loose puck and shooting it off the post from a near-impossible angle.
"I shoot the puck from there every day in the pre-game skate, so it's nothing new to get a chance,'' Tucker said. "It's just lucky the puck went in and we got a win.''
O'Neill made it 4-1 at 11:24 when his cross-ice pass from the side off the net went off Florida defenceman Jay Bouwmeester's right skate.
Jokinen had a power-play goal for Florida, his 25th goal of the season.
Belfour was at his best in the second period when he stopped 17 of 18 shots and helped the Maple Leafs kill a 5-on-3 power play that lasted 1:28.
"The last few games we played pretty desperate and had a good effort and tonight, in one of the most important games of the year, we came out flat, or it seemed like that because we got ourselves in penalty trouble,'' Florida defenceman Sean Hill said. "It wasn't the type of effort we needed.''
Notes: Toronto D Bryan McCabe, the team's leading scorer, missed his ninth consecutive game because of a groin injury. He might return Tuesday night when the Maple Leafs play at Tampa Bay. ... Florida reassigned C Petr Taticek to Houston of the American Hockey League. He was scoreless in three games for the Panthers. ... Florida C Gregory Campbell missed his fourth consecutive game because of a concussion. ... Florida is 0-15-2 when trailing after two periods. ... Leafs D Jay Harrison of Oshawa, Ont., who made his NHL debut Saturday night in Montreal, picked up his first career point when he assisted on Kilger s goal. ... The Leafs allowed at least four goals in each game during their losing streak.