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Panthers Wrap-Up: Panthers 5, Maple Leafs 3

by Glenn Odebralski / Florida Panthers
1 2 3 OT T
Panthers 1 3 1 0 5
MAPLE LEAFS 0 2 1 0 3
FLA - E. Gudbranson (2), B. Thomas (1), PPG - J. Garrison (11), PPG - K. Versteeg (17), T. Fleischmann (13)

TOR - M. Grabovski (9), D. Phaneuf (5), PPG - M. Grabovski (10)
SUNRISE, Fla (AP) - Kris Versteeg and Jason Garrison scored power play goals to help the Florida Panthers to a 5-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.

Erik Gundbranson, Bill Thomas, and Tomas Fleischmann also scored for the Panthers, and Brian Campbell had three assists.

"I think that's what we were really looking for. They are a really good hockey team. We're so respectful of the talent and that's not just blabber after the game. We were really worried about the speed and the skill that they have. Sometimes a best defense is a good offense. They really have so much layers on the rush that if you can do a good job on the defensive side you can create on the offense and I think that's what we did."

- Head coach Kevin Dineen on scoring three goals on three shots in the second period.
1. Quick Strike Second: Combining for just one goal in the opening period (goal by defenseman Erik Gudbranson), Florida and Toronto opened it up in the opening half of the second. After Toronto tied it at one off a Mikhail Grabovski goal 2:11 into the period, Bill Thomas answered just 19 seconds later. The Panthers would build on their lead with two power play goals as Jason Garrison recorded his 11th of the season on another bomb 4:13 into the period. After Toronto pulled their starting netminder James Reimer, Kris Versteeg followed up on his initial shot on a 5-on-3 power play as he banked it off of backup nemtinder Jonas Gustavsson's back at the 6:55 mark. Toronto made it a two goal game as Dion Phaneuf scored on a bomb of his own from just inside the blueline 9:34 into the period. All in all, five goals were scored in a span of 7:23, four within 4:44 of each other.

2. Overcoming A Replay: Working on their third power play of the game midway through the third, the Leafs would score as Grabovski netted his second of the game. Deemed a good goal on the ice, the call went to Toronto for review as it looked like Grabovski might have kicked the puck into the net past Jose Theodore. Grabovski had actually jumped to try to get out of the way of Clarke MacArthur's shot but came down early and after being hit by a Panthers defenseman, was falling to the ice. Grabovski's left skate turned as he fell and the puck ended in the back of the net. After several minutes of anxiousness, the league deemed it a good goal cutting the Panthers lead to 4-3. With Toronto coming back from a 4-1 deficit and only one goal away from tying it, the Panthers needed a stop or turn in events. That came 2:27 later as Matt Bradley found Tomas Fleischmann with a pass off the boards after the forward had jumped on the ice on a line change. Flash raced up the ice, faked a slap shot to freeze Gustavsson and then shot a wicked wrister for his 13th of the season, giving the Panthers that two goal cushion once again.

3. Help From All Over: Missing seven Panthers regulars (all forwards), the Panthers were going to need help from all over and that included from the guys called up from San Antonio. That happened as 12 skaters figured into the point totals. Leading the way was defenseman Brian Campbell with three helpers. What was really great to see was the contributions from those that spent time with the Rampage this season. Both Tim Kennedy and Michal Repik easily had their best games of the season and recorded assists in the efforts. Passing through re-entry waivers earlier today, Mark Cullen had a nice game as well in picking up an assist on the night. If there was a play of the game called it would have gone to Thomas. With the Maple Leafs tying the game at one early in the second, his goal 19 seconds later gave the Panthers the lead they would not relinquish the rest of the game. While not a pretty goal in that the puck fell off his stick and past Reimer, a goal is a goal and that was an important one to score.
Memorable twitter posts from the game.

@lmcangel13: Stellar job from our @sarampage boys stepping in for the Cats. That's a W!!! #FlaPanthers #teameffort

@JessilynMorales: I will never get used to winning. Playoff atmosphere in the lobby of the Bank Atlantic Center! #FlaPanthers

@daveabrams: I've said it before, I'll say it again: hockey is insane! Exciting as hell! Sloppy play, but good win for the #FlaPanthers!

@RaihanSays: A game that saw christmas presents flying around. #flapanthers win 5-3 over #Leafs

@vninjayoo: The @FlaPanthers game was intense tonight! Goal after goal!! #Fleischmann #WeSeeRed can't wait for the #Rangers to come so we can kick ass!

Memorable fan posts from the game.

Benjamin Saunders: We're walking along, singing our song.....walking in a tallon wonderland!

Erick Maldonado: San Antonio Panthers with a huge win! Go Panthers and Go Rampage!

Jean Logan: How about winning it 5-3??? Pretty impressive for a banged up team...if this continues the doubters may shut up.

Sebastian Lovas: Repik had a great game tonight, I hope he continues like this. Nice bounce back from the Boston game, let's aim for a winning streak!

Jaak Kuuse: Great win, with 7 forwards

1. All you need is one. It took just one shot for the Panthers to score as defenseman Erik Gudbranson beat James Reimer with a blast from the point. The goal came 1:57 into the game.

10. It must have felt like the weight of the world was lifted off his shoulders. Scoring the fifth goal of the game, the tally, Tomas Fleischmann's 13th of the season, ended an 10 game goalless drought.

12. Like what was written earlier, the Panthers found contributions from almost everyone as 12 different skaters found their way onto the scoresheet.

A streak came to an end Tuesday night but in a very good way. With the two goal victory, the 5-3 final ended a 13 game one-goal game in which the Panthers have played in at the BankAtlantic Center. Florida was 6-2-5 over that span which started with a 4-3 shootout loss to Winnipeg on Halloween night.

19. It didn't take long for the Panthers to mount an answer to Toronto's first goal of the game. In fact it took just 19 seconds for Bill Thomas to answer Mikhail Grabovski's goal 2:11 into the second as Thomas scored on a breakaway.
Michal Repik
Brian Campbell figured more in the scoring (three assists) but it might have been Michal Repik's best game as a pro. The forward provided great screens on Toronoto goalies on both Gudbranson's and Garrison's bombs and picked up an assist on the play. Also tied a career high in shots with six.

1 Assist, 6 Shots, 11:23 TOI
Florida will have two days off before their next game and they'll be hitting prime time when they do. That's because they will host the New York Rangers on December 30th. If you haven't been following the Winter Classic then you wouldn't know that the Rangers and Flyers are playing outside in Philadelphia on January 2nd. It will be the final tune-up game for New York and HBO will be there to video the contest. With it the last game, one can expect quite a bit of coverage of Friday night's game making it on to the following week's episode. New York has been on fire of late, going 7-2-1 in their last 10 games. That streak has them sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings with 48 points (22-8-4). The Rangers are led offensively by Marian Gaborik who has 33 points (22-11-33) in 34 games and have one of the premier netminders in the league in Henrik Lundqvist. King Henrik has a mind-boggling 1.95 goals against average to go along with a .936 save perentage and a 15-7-4 record.

Author: Glenn Odebralski |

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