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game recap

Jokinen scores twice, Panthers top Maple Leafs

Luongo makes 32 saves to keep Florida on top of Atlantic Division

by Tim Wharnsby / Correspondent

TORONTO - Florida Panthers forward Jussi Jokinen, a native of Finland, had the luck of the Irish with him on St. Patrick's Day at Air Canada Centre.

Jokinen scored two fluky goals less than nine minutes apart in the second period to help the Panthers defeat the Maple Leafs 4-1 on Thursday.

"Not that I know of," he replied with a chuckle when asked if he had any Irish ancestry. "We don't have this holiday in Finland, but it's a nice holiday. Hopefully, I will have many more games on St. Patrick's Day if I have luck like that."

Video: FLA@TOR: Jokinen puts home second goal from odd angle

Jokinen missed the Panthers' 4-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday after he sustained a lower-body injury blocking a shot in 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Monday. He and his linemates, center Vincent Trocheck and right wing Reilly Smith, had enjoyed a strong stretch prior to the injury, combining for five goals in the four games, even though Jokinen's 10-game point streak ended against the Islanders.

But after a couple days of rest, Jokinen felt well enough to play in Toronto.

"It was a good decision to play today," he said with a smile.

Video: FLA@TOR: Jokinen's feed finds the net for PPG

Jokinen made it 1-0 with a power-play goal 24 seconds into the second period. His pass attempt was redirected by Maple Leafs forward Ben Smith and went through the pads of goalie Jonathan Bernier.

At 9:22, Jokinen was in the corner to the left of Bernier when his attempted pass deflected off the stick of Maple Leafs defenseman Connor Carrick, hit Bernier's back and went into the net to make it 2-0.

"When you make plays toward the net, good things happen," Jokinen said.

It was the Panthers' fourth win in five games and their 40th victory this season, three shy of the franchise record set in 1999-2000. Florida (40-22-9) increased its lead in the race for first place in the Atlantic Division. The Panthers are three points ahead of the Boston Bruins and four in front of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Each team has 11 games remaining. Florida hosts the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.

Video: FLA@TOR: Luongo snags Grabner's breakaway chance

Jaromir Jagr and Teddy Purcell scored into an empty net and goalie Roberto Luongo was sharp, making made 32 saves and prevented the tying goal after Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly made it 2-1 with 3:27 remaining in the second period. Rielly scored when he picked up a loose puck in the slot and took a wrist shot that went between Luongo's glove hand and his body.

"We were more lucky than good," Jagr said. "Sometimes you have to take it and move on."

Even Jagr's 746th career goal had some good fortune. He was just outside the Panthers blue line but was able to reach out with his stick and redirect a clearing attempt from Florida defenseman Brian Campbell that slid down the ice and into the empty net.

"When you look at all 80 games, you should score goals on some shots and you score goals when you shouldn't," Jagr said.

Video: FLA@TOR: Rielly fires it past Luongo in the 3rd

Carrick had the best opportunity to tie the game in the third period, but Luongo made a nice right-arm save on his 40-foot wrist shot with 4:57 remaining.

"We still have to get more compete in our game," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said of his 30th-place team. "It doesn't matter how much skill you have, you have to go out and win battles."

The loss snapped a two-game win streak for the Maple Leafs (24-35-11) and spoiled the NHL debut of 22-year-old right wing Connor Brown. He was the sixth Toronto player to play in his first NHL game since the trade deadline.

Bernier finished with 28 saves for the Maple Leafs, who host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.

Video: Jokinen's two goals led the Panthers to road victory

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