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game recap

Panthers score seven in win against Maple Leafs

Jonathan Marchessault gets two goals, Thomas Vanek four assists for Florida

by Alain Poupart / NHL.com Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Jonathan Marchessault had two goals and Thomas Vanek had a NHL career-high four assists, and the Florida Panthers ended a five-game losing streak with a 7-2 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs at BB&T Center on Tuesday.

Vanek, acquired in a trade with the Detroit Red Wings on March 1, tied the Panthers record that had been done eight times.

 

WATCH: All Maple Leafs vs. Panthers highlights

 

"He's been big since he's come in," Marchessault said. "Tonight was a good way to show how good he is. He was amazing."

Aleksander Barkov, Jussi Jokinen and Keith Yandle each had a goal and an assist, and Colton Sceviour and Reilly Smith scored for the Panthers (30-27-11), who won for only the second time in 10 games (2-7-1).

Video: TOR@FLA: Vanek, Yandle combine for slick goal

The Panthers tied their season high for goals, set in a 7-4 victory against the Nashville Predators on Feb. 11.

"We know we have the offense in here to be able to score some goals," Yandle said, "but when we're playing simple and smart that's when we're at our best and the offense takes care of itself."

James Reimer made 28 saves in his second start against his former team. He was the losing goalie in a 6-1 loss at Toronto on Nov. 17.

Florida is six points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Islanders for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

Leo Komarov and Nikita Soshnikov scored for Toronto (31-23-14), which had its three-game winning streak end. Frederik Andersen started in net but was replaced by Curtis McElhinney after the first period after allowing three goals on eight shots.

Video: TOR@FLA: Jokinen finishes sharp-angle shot for PPG

"We were poor in our decisions," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "When you're not prepared and you don't compete at a high enough level, you get fed your lunch."

Barkov opened the scoring 18 seconds in when he redirected Jonathan Huberdeau's pass from the corner. It was Florida's fastest opening goal of the season.

Sceviour made it 2-0 at 10:33 with a shorthanded breakaway goal before Komarov made it 2-1 with a power-play goal at 13:36.

Marchessault gave Florida a 3-1 lead at 14:21 when his wrist shot from the point went through traffic and beat Andersen. Marchessault made it 4-1 at 4:38 of the second before Smith ended a 15-game goal drought when he scored on his own rebound at 16:22 to make it 5-1.

Soshnikov made it 5-2 at 18:24 with a backhand rebound, but Jokinen gave Florida a 6-2 lead at 19:33 with a power-play goal. Yandle scored at 2:17 of the third when he one-timed Vanek's pass across the front of the net to make it 7-2.

Video: TOR@FLA: Marchessault whips a shot in through traffic

 

Goal of the game

Marchessault's second goal came off a pretty passing play that began with Vanek passing to Barkov in the slot. Barkov appeared ready to shoot, but instead slid a pass across to Marchessault near the crease for the easy redirect.

Video: TOR@FLA: Marchessault taps home his second goal

 

Save of the game

Toronto trailed 4-1 in the second period when Zach Hyman found himself alone in front of the net with Reimer on the ice after making a save. Hyman made a move to his forehand, but Reimer quickly extended his glove hand to make the save at 11:52.

Video: TOR@FLA: Reimer sprawls across for stellar save

 

Highlight of the game

Reunited after playing on separate lines the past three games, Huberdeau and Barkov teamed up for the quick goal off a faceoff in the Toronto zone. Barkov's redirect bounced off the post before ricocheting in off Andersen's skate.

Video: TOR@FLA: Barkov finishes Huberdeau's beautiful feed

 

Unsung performance of the game

Panthers forward Derek MacKenzie sent Sceviour on a breakaway for a goal with a nifty floating pass from the defensive zone. He also led the Panthers with four hits and won 11 of 15 faceoffs (73 percent).

Video: TOR@FLA: Sceviour finishes a shorthanded breakaway

 

They said it

"It's definitely unacceptable and we're well aware of that. We're not proud of that performance but we're usually a team that can respond rather quickly and we're looking to do that on Thursday (against Tampa Bay)." -- Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri

 

"We knew the importance of the game tonight and that adds to the disappointment of the effort. There's lot of good teams out there competing for not that many spots. Tonight we let an opportunity get away from us." -- Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly

 

"We played the right way, chipped pucks in most of the time. We didn't force plays into the middle of the ice. They've got an unbelievable transition game and probably the best young forwards in the League as far as skill goes. If we got risky, then we would have paid the price and I'm glad we didn't." -- Panthers coach Tom Rowe

 

Video: TOR@FLA: Trainer honored by Panthers for 1000th game

 

Need to know

Maple Leafs rookie Auston Matthews was held without a point for a sixth consecutive game, his longest drought of the season. … Kadri was minus-5, and Tyler Bozak, Komarov and Nikita Zaitsev all were minus-4. … This was Florida's first regulation victory since Feb. 20 when the Panthers defeated the St. Louis Blues 2-1. … Smith hadn't scored since Feb. 3 in a 2-1 victory against the Anaheim Ducks.

 

What's next

Maple Leafs: At the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday (8:30 p.m. ET; SUN, SNO, NHL.TV)

Panthers: At the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; TVA Sports, FS-O, FS-F, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Panthers erupt for season-high seven goals in win

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