The first win by more than one goal since early January. The Florida Panthers put a nail in the coffin of the playoff hopes of the Toronto Maple Leafs last night with a pretty easy 4-0 victory. Goals by Sergei Samsonov, Stephen Weiss, Mike Santorelli and an empty netter from Keaton Ellerby, the Cats pretty much cruised to victory over Toronto.
The last 11 wins by the Panthers were all by one goal. Stephen Weiss had this to say after the game:
“It’s a really nice win for us,” Weiss said. “With the group we have in here, I thought it was probably the most complete game we’ve played together. I thought all in all, from five-on-five to special teams, we were really good tonight.”
Since the trade deadline the Panthers have played some very spotty hockey. At times they have looked lost, and at other times they have looked pretty comfortable with themselves. When you have such a turnover of players at this point in the season, that’s going to happen. Last night however, in a game that all of Toronto felt that they could win, the Panthers had other ideas.
It was the first shutout of the season for goaltender Scott Clemmesen, who’s starting to see more action as the season winds down. This was Clemmensen’s sixth shutout of his career and he needed to make some great saves on Joey Crabb and Joffrey Lupul.
“My first shutout of the year last year came on April 1 and I remember saying at that time, I wish it would have come a little earlier than April and I wish this one would have come a little earlier than mid-March here,” Clemmensen said. “But it is what it is. It’s always nice to get shutouts. It’s a team effort, it’s a team thing, and everyone played great tonight.”
The Leafs who were coming off a 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes the night before were not at all the same team, as they looked tired, worn out and at times, frustrated. J.S. Giguere who was making his first start since February 16th stopped 22 shots as he was the starter in goal. A decision that head coach Ron Wilson is going to take a lot of hear for. Rookie netminder James Reimer has been playing some superb hockey this season and is partly the reason the Leafs were making a run at the playoffs. Wouldn’t want to deal with the Toronto media after this one. Whether the decision was right or wrong, Wilson did what he thought was best. Let’s remember that the goalie doesn’t shoot, pass or skate. Forward Clarke MacArthur put things in perspective:
We didn’t have our legs,” Leafs winger Clarke MacArthur said. “We’re a team that can skate well. We didn’t do that tonight.”
Things got a bit scary during the game when Maple Leafs defenceman Dion Phaneuf and Panthers David Booth collided along the boards. It appeared that they knocked knees and that Dion may have stuck his leg out a little more than he should have. Play stopped, with no rebuttle from the Panthers as Dion skated to the penalty box. Booth thankfully returned later in the game.
Somehow the Panthers power play which came into the game was ranked 29th in the league was successful on both attempts last night. If only they had been more successful throughout the season, things could have turned out much differently.
Head Coach Peter DeBoer was happy with the teams victory.
“It was nice. I was glad for the guys. We’ve got a lot of kids up here that are competing real hard and trying to do the right thing. In Toronto’s defence, we got them (after) an emotional win after the Carolina game, but we did our job and jumped on them and took advantage of it.”
Saturday night the Panthers will host the New York Islanders as the close out their seven game homestand.
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