SUNRISE, Fla. – The Toronto Maple Leafs called a players-only meeting before Wednesday’s game to try to find a way out of their slump. It didn’t work.
Michael Frolik had a goal and two assists to help the Florida Panthers beat Toronto 4-1 and extend the Maple Leafs’ losing streak to seven games.
Bryan Allen, Steven Reinprecht and Shawn Matthias also scored for Florida.
Tomas Vokoun made 32 saves in his first start since being pulled in the first period against Carolina on Friday night.
The Maple Leafs’ losing streak is their longest since opening last season at 0-6-1. They have lost 10 of their past 11 games and are 3-for-40 on the power play in their last 10 games.
“We met for about an hour, and hashed some things out,” Maple Leafs right-winger Kris Versteeg said. “We came out and had a great first trip. Then we took a penalty on the second shift that took our momentum away.”
Jonas Gustavsson stopped 24 shots for Toronto. The Maple Leafs’ last win came against the Panthers on Oct. 26 in Toronto. The winning goal that night came on a controversial play when a collision occurred with Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen as the puck was coming in on goal.
Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson seems willing to try anything to break the slump.
“It’s good. I’m glad they got together. They should,” Wilson said. “We had our chances, and you can see the frustration mounting in our guys. We’re getting enough shots, we’re getting enough chances.
“It becomes psychological, it gets in your head. Sometimes we’re so tight we don’t see an open corner, the five-hole or anything like that.”
The Panthers opened the scoring at 7:42 of the first. Stephen Weiss brought the puck along the side boards and pushed it toward the goal. Gustavsson turned the puck away with his stick into the side boards, but Allen grabbed the rebound and his slapshot beat Gustavsson on the stick side.
Florida made it 2-0 on Reinprecht’s power-play goal in the second. Dennis Wideman took a shot from in front but the puck deflected off a skate and bounced out to Reinprecht on the right corner of the crease. He poked the puck into the open net at 15:44.
Matthias’ goal at 2:44 of the third stretched the Panthers’ lead to 3-0. The Leafs got caught deep in the zone and Matthias took a pass from Frolik near the blue-line and skated in alone on Gustavsson and fired a wrist shot between the pads.
“All my buddies, family and friends were probably watching,” said Matthias, who is from the Toronto area.”It’s nice to beat those guys, especially how the last game ended up, and we wanted to win this one for everyone.”
The Panthers made it 4-0 on Frolik’s wrist shot during a power play at 12:44 of the third.
“I just tried to shoot low, maybe for a rebound or something, and it just got in” Frolik said.
Less than a minute later, Toronto avoided being shutout for the fourth time in its past seven games when Mikhail Grabovski’s shot from the point beat Vokoun.
“We’re a team that prides itself on working hard and we just have to find a way to score goals,” Maple Leafs defenceman Brett Lebda said. “When it snowballs, it snowballs. It’s getting a little out of control right now. I think we have the guys in here who can make it go the other way.”
NOTES: The Panthers honoured former goalie John Vanbiesbrouck before the game. Vanbiesbrouck was the first goalie for the expansion Panthers in 1993 and played for them from 1993-98. … Toronto C Phil Kessel has gone seven games without a point.