By Mary Findlater
Whispers of “there’s always next year” echoed through Leaf Nation Tuesday night as Florida dominated Toronto with a final of 5-2.
Leafs entered the BankAtlantic Center scoreless in their last two games with James Reimer at the guard, a first since implementing coach Randy Carlyle.
The Panthers pulled ahead early with Sean Bergenheim scoring in under a minute of play leaving a nervous Reimer in the net. Florida added to their lead mid-second period with Jason Garrison redirecting a shot past the Leafs’ goalie.
Tyler Bozak breathed life into an extinguished Toronto team with his goal from MacArthur and Kessel, ending a 196.26 minute scoring drought for the Leafs, the longest slump since 1926.
Florida answered with a pair of power play goals in the third to surge ahead of a struggling Toronto.
Grabovski scored to cut the Leaf deficit but to no avail as Bergenheim pushed in an empty net goal with 1:20 left to play.
“You can’t give up 5 goals and expect to win in the NHL,” said Carlyle post-game.
Panthers hang on to 3rd in the East while Toronto claws in twelfth, recording only six out of a possible 34 points in their last 17 games.