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game recap

Panthers miss chance to regain first place

Remain even in points with Tampa Bay atop Atlantic Division; Kadri's hat trick lifts Maple Leafs

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Florida Panthers failed to regain first place in the Atlantic Division on Tuesday, and they can blame their special teams for that.

The Panthers allowed three power-play goals and one shorthanded goal in a 5-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at BB&T Center.

Florida (42-25-9) and the Tampa Bay Lightning each have 93 points in 76 games, but the Lightning hold the tiebreaker with a 41-35 advantage in regulation/overtime wins.

"They played better," Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr said. "We just have to regroup. There's always next game. It's not like we lost and we're out of the playoffs. We have to forget about it and get ready for next game. It's going to be even bigger."

The Panthers' magic number for clinching a playoff spot fell to five points because the Detroit Red Wings lost 4-3 in regulation to the Montreal Canadiens.

Video: TOR@FLA: Kadri picks up third-career hat trick

The Panthers returned home after completing a three-game road trip with victories against the Boston Bruins and Lightning. The game against Toronto was the first of seven against teams not in playoff position to close the season.

Roberto Luongo made 23 saves for Florida; he was 15-1-0 with a 1.90 goals-against average in 18 starts against the Maple Leafs since January 2007.

"Their special teams were great tonight," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "They scored some real nice goals. We didn't look good tonight. We weren't executing at the top of our game. I thought the 5-on-5 play for the most part was real good, but we just didn't execute on special teams."

Maple Leafs center Nazem Kadri had a hat trick, with two power-play goals in the second period and an empty-net goal with 2:39 left. It was the third hat trick of Kadri's NHL career. The other two came late in the 2012-13 season.

Video: TOR@FLA: Bernier denies Wilson to keep game tied

"That doesn't happen too often and there were great plays by my teammates to set me up," Kadri said. "Sometimes you have one of those nights where the puck just finds you and tonight was one of those nights."

PA Parenteau scored his 100th NHL goal on a power play in the third period, and Michael Grabner scored a shorthanded goal.

Connor Brown, who made his NHL debut against the Panthers on March 17, had three assists. Jonathan Bernier made 32 saves in his sixth consecutive start allowing two goals or fewer.

The Maple Leafs (28-37-11) were 3-for-4 on the power play. They came in with the worst road power play in the NHL at 9.6 percent and were 0-for-7 in their 3-0 loss at Tampa Bay on Monday. Toronto was 0-for-19 in its previous five road games.

Video: TOR@FLA: Kadri lunges ahead to give Leafs the lead

"Our power play was clicking," Parenteau said. "We were moving it. I thought we had some great looks. We really took it to them, and [the power play] played a real big role in this game."

Toronto, which is last in the Eastern Conference with 67 points, is 7-4-0 in its past 11 games.

Florida center Greg McKegg scored his first NHL goal, and Jonathan Huberdeau scored.

"The win was the important thing, but anytime you can score your first goal in the National Hockey League is kind of a dream come true and a pretty special moment," said McKegg, who played his 17th NHL game (13th this season). "Obviously would have liked to get the win, though."

Video: TOR@FLA: Kadri's backhander extends Maple Leafs' lead

Panthers center Vincent Trocheck left the game after the second period with an apparent leg injury. He blocked a shot from Parenteau on a Toronto power play midway through the period but finished it. Trocheck's 25 goals are tied for the Panthers lead with Jagr.

Gallant said after the game he didn't know the extent of the injury, but Trocheck is scheduled to have an MRI on Wednesday.

"He was our best player for a long time, so it's tough," Jagr said. "Not only we lost this game, we lost our best player. Hopefully somebody else is going to step up. He was playing so well and the whole line (Trocheck-Jokinen-Reilly Smith) was playing so good."

Florida won the previous two games against Toronto by a combined 9-2, 5-1 at BB&T Center and 4-1 at Air Canada Centre.

Kadri broke a 1-1 tie at 10:36 of the second period after Luongo stopped Brown's shot from the point. With one second left in Logan Shaw's tripping penalty, Kadri made it 3-1 at 18:14 after taking a pass from Brown to the left of the net.

Video: TOR@FLA: McKegg nets loose puck for first NHL goal

Kadri has 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 15 games against Florida. He came in with two goals in his previous 14 games.

"I just have to stay with it," he said. "I've been saying that since the beginning of the year. You can't be frustrated. I felt like this year I've found a whole different dimension in my game playing on the defensive side. I've just become more reliable and better in the faceoff circle, and things like that are going to be important down the line, not just scoring goals."

Grabner gave Toronto a 1-0 lead at 15:11 of the first period less than 15 seconds after shooting wide on a breakaway. He scored on a 2-on-1 after redirecting a pass from Brown.

The goal ended Toronto's scoreless streak at 118:16, since Ben Smith scored at 16:55 of the first period of a 3-1 loss to the Bruins on Saturday.

Huberdeau tied it 1-1 at 6:23 of the second on a 2-on-1 when he beat Bernier with a wrist shot along the ice between his legs.

"That shorthanded goal was a big goal for them and then they got three power-play goals," said Gallant, who coached his 300th NHL game. "But we've got to be better. Our execution wasn't good tonight and I thought for whatever reason we didn't have the jump we usually have."

Video: Maple Leafs defeat Panthers on the road, 5-2

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