Maple Leafs’ scoring spurt topples Florida Panthers
01/31/2014 12:16 AM
01/31/2014 5:18 PM
Scott Clemmensen has had some great games at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, but Thursday’s sure wasn’t one of them.
Clemmensen gave up two goals in the opening minute of the second period as the Maple Leafs went on a five-goal run in an eventual 6-3 win.
Florida, which led 2-0 late in the first, has been outscored 12-5 in its past two losses.
“This game stings. It hurts,’’ said Sean Bergenheim, whose goal late in the first gave Florida its two-goal lead.
“We’re really disappointed because that’s a game we have to have. We played good at the beginning, then they got their goals when we fell asleep. It wasn’t good enough.’’
The Panthers grabbed a 2-0 lead after Toronto’s defense all but betrayed goalie Jonathan Bernier with turnovers deep in its zone.
But the offense would soon warm up against Clemmensen.
Toronto got its first goal with 3:11 left in the first when Cody Franson let a 55-foot shot fly — one that Clemmensen never seemed to see.
The Leafs came out flying to kick off the second, scoring on their first two shots of the period. The first when Mason Raymond walked in on Clemmensen and scored 27 seconds in; the second came on a power play as James van Riemsdyk tipped a Phil Kessel shot at the 58-second mark.
“They stayed with their game plan and really stifled us,’’ said Clemmensen, now 3-2-2 at the Air Canada Centre.
“Give them credit: They screened me very well. I was having a hard time seeing anything. ... There wasn’t much I could do.’’
The Panthers settled down once it was 3-2 and had a few chances snuffed out by Bernier as they turned the game back their way.
In the third, however, Toronto put things away with Nik Kulemin and Joffrey Lupul scoring within a span of 2:22. Dmitry Kulikov got the Panthers back to 5-3 with 5:31 left, but Toronto’s Tyler Bozak wrapped it up a few minutes later.
“We wanted to hold that lead, score another one and they got two quick ones,’’ said Kulikov, who has two goals in the past two games.
“We should have been able to handle them after they came out in the second. We knew they would come out hard in the second after they got some bad words from their coach. We didn’t handle it.’’
Florida scored the first two goals with Drew Shore and Scottie Upshall feeding Nick Bjugstad for the opener 1:39 in.
The second goal came when Scott Gomez picked off a puck and it ending up on Bergenheim’s stick for a 2-0 lead at 13:50.
“You’re looking for the 60-minute game, looking to be resilient,’’ coach Peter Horachek said. “You have to bear down; when they score two like that, some of the guys were back on their heels.’’
For the first time since joining the Panthers in 2011, Tomas Fleischmann missed a game for something other than the flu as Horachek made him a healthy scratch.
“It looks like his enthusiasm ... he doesn’t have the drive right now,’’ Horachek said. “He needs to pick it back up and get his game back. He’s a talented player, a good player.’’
Fleischmann led the Panthers in scoring the past two seasons but has slumped this year. Fleischmann, who is fourth on the team this year with 23 points, hasn’t scored a goal in his past 18 games. He has five assists during that span.
“I didn’t expect it,’’ said Fleischmann, who watched the second half of Thursday’s game from the press gondola atop the arena.
“I always try to do what I can to help the team win, but it didn’t work last game. ... Obviously, I’m supposed to score goals.’’
Jimmy Hayes was scratched for the third time in five games and Erik Gudbranson sat for his third consecutive game.