The warm weather in Florida did nothing to heat up the Toronto Maple Leafs
' ice-cold offense.
The Leafs finished an 0-2 trip to the Sunshine State on Wednesday with a 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers
at the BankAtlantic Center. Only a late goal by Mikhail Grabovski
with the home side on cruise control kept the Leafs from being blanked for the second night in a row.
The loss was the Leafs' seventh in a row, their longest streak since opening last season by going 0-6-1. They've won just once in their last 11 games after starting the season with four consecutive victories.
Not even a players-only meeting earlier in the day helped.
"We met for about an hour, and hashed some things out," forward Kris Versteeg
said. "We came out and had a great first trip. Then we took a penalty on the second shift that took our momentum away."
Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson was OK with the meeting, which followed a poor effort in a 4-0 loss at Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
"It's good. I'm glad they got together. They should," Wilson said. "We had our chances, and you can see the frustration mounting in our guys. We're getting enough shots, we're getting enough chances. It becomes psychological, it gets in your head. Sometimes we're so tight we don't see an open corner, the five-hole or anything like that."
It's only the second time since the Panthers joined the NHL in 1993 that the Leafs have come to Florida and lost back-to-back games to the Lightning and Panthers. The other time was Feb. 25-26, 2004.
Florida got a goal and a pair of assists from Michael Frolik and 32 saves by Tomas Vokoun in his first start since being pulled against Carolina on Friday.
"I thought we played a good game. We were opportunistic," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "We got some scoring from some people we needed to -- Brian Allen got a big goal, Mattias got a goal, Frolik. That's the depth kind of scoring we need, and when we had some breakdowns, Vokie was real good."
The Panthers opened the scoring at 7:42 of the first. Stephen Weiss
brought the puck along the side boards and pushed it toward the net. Jonas Gustavsson
sticked the puck to the side boards, but Allen grabbed the rebound and his slap shot beat Gustavsson on the stick side.
Florida made it 2-0 on Reinprecht's power-play goal at 15:44 of the second. Dennis Wideman took a shot from in front but the puck deflected off a skate and bounced out to Reinprecht on the right corner of the crease for a tap-in.
Matthias and Frolik scored 10 minutes apart in the third period.
"We're relying on young guys in a lot of key situations," DeBoer said. "Frolik is starting to play the way we need him to play."
The goal was especially sweet for Mattias, who comes from the Toronto area.
"All my buddies, family and friends were probably watching," he said. "It's nice to beat those guys, especially how the last game ended up, and we wanted to win this one for everyone."
Grabovski enabled the Leafs to avoid back-to-back shutouts by beating Vokoun from the point with 6:25 to play. But they still flew home for a Saturday night game against Vancouver looking for answers.
"We're a team that prides itself on working hard and we just have to find a way to score goals," defenseman Brett Lebda said. "When it snowballs, it snowballs. It's getting a little out of control right now. I think we have the guys in here who can make it go the other way."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report