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Leafs Dropped By Panthers

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs


TORONTO -- Jussi Jokinen scored two strange goals to help the Florida Panthers to a 4-1 win in Toronto on Thursday night, further solidifying their Atlantic Division lead.

Jokinen wasn't attempting to score on either goal against the Maple Leafs, with two passing attempts pinging off Toronto sticks to beat Jonathan Bernier, who was making his third straight start in goal.

It was the fourth win in five games for Florida (40-22-9), trailed closely for the Division lead by the Bruins and Lightning. The Panthers are three wins from matching their franchise record (43).

Jaromir Jagr and Teddy Purcell added empty-net goals for the Panthers.

Morgan Rielly scored for the Leafs, who had a two-game win streak snapped.

Bernier turned aside 28 shots, while Florida's Roberto Luongo stopped 32 of 33 shots.

The two teams both had decent chances in a scoreless opening frame.

Michael Grabner broke free of the Panthers defence at the midway point only to be stopped by the glove of Luongo, the NHL's active wins leader.

Toronto rookie Zach Hyman redirected a Jake Gardiner point shot a few minutes later, also turned down by Luongo.

Florida's finest chance early came off the tape of the ageless Jagr. The 44-year-old, who recently passed Gordie Howe for sole possession of third on the NHL's all-time scoring list, got to a rebound only to see it stopped by Bernier's right pad.

Jokinen opened the scoring 24 seconds into the second period, his passing attempt to Vincent Trocheck deflecting off the stick of Leafs forward Ben Smith. He added his second goal of the night and 15th this season about nine minutes later, his pass from behind the goal-line pinging off the stick of Leafs defenceman Connor Carrick.

Toronto used its 15th coach's challenge (tied for the league-lead) on the first Jokinen goal, claiming it was offside. The goal was confirmed by video review.

Rielly brought the Leafs to within one late in the second, sneaking an innocent-looking shot past Luongo from high in the slot. It was the 22-year-old's eighth goal of the year, matching a career-high.

Connor Brown became the 10th Leaf to make his NHL debut. A sixth round pick of the club, Brown was recalled on an emergency basis to replace Leo Komarov, who was hurt in the Leafs win over Tampa earlier this week.

The AHL's rookie scoring leader last season, Brown was given the standard rookie treatment at the pre-game warm-up, left to take a couple spins around the ice before being joined by teammates.

It was the Panthers second win in as many meetings with the Leafs this season. Florida beat Toronto 5-1 on Jan. 26.

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