SUNRISE, Fla. – It took a trip to sunny South Florida to cool off the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Tim Thomas made 20 saves, Brian Campbell had two assists and the Florida Panthers beat Toronto 4-1 on Tuesday night to snap a three-game losing streak.
The Maple Leafs had won three straight in frigid Toronto and were 9-1-1 in their last 11 coming into the game.
Tom Gilbert, Jesse Winchester, Shawn Matthias and Marcel Goc scored for the Panthers.
David Clarkson had the goal for Toronto, and Jonathan Bernier stopped 44 shots.
Florida made it 3-1 with 6:38 left when Matthias’ wrist shot from the right circle beat Bernier on the short side. Goc added an empty-net goal with 2:30 remaining.
Every skater on the Panthers had at least one shot on goal.
“It was probably our best game of the year,” Matthias said. “It was an exciting game for us.”
Toronto closed to 2-1 on Clarkson’s goal in the third period following a turnover by Tomas Kopecky in the Maple Leafs zone. Nazem Kadri stole the puck from Kopecky and passed to Clarkson, who beat Thomas at 9:31.
“When you score a goal like that and you have a couple shifts where you’re moving the puck and getting the puck into their zone, we’ve shown we’re a team that can come back from that,” said Clarkson, who returned to the lineup after missing eight games with an elbow injury. “We didn’t come to play right away tonight.”
Just when it appeared the Maple Leafs might make a comeback, the Panthers scored twice on Matthias’ goal and then the empty-netter.
“I think it was pretty solid,” Panthers coach Peter Horachek said. “Even when there was down time and the game was going the other way, momentum shift, we took it back pretty quickly.”
The Panthers stretched their lead to 2-0 on Winchester’s goal at 5:21 of the third. Scott Gomez made a drop pass to Campbell and his shot from the right circle deflected off Winchester and over Bernier into the top of the net.
Campbell was originally credited with the goal before an official scoring change after the game gave it to Winchester.
The Panthers had a goal disallowed about a minute later. A shot by Erik Gudbranson was initially ruled a goal, but video review showed the puck hit the post, went across the crease and tight-roped the goal line but never crossed it.
While the Panthers felt it was one of their best games of the season, it was the opposite for some Toronto players.
“There’s no excuse for the way we played,” Maple Leafs forward Mason Raymond said. “We’ve had a few tough games this year but nowhere near this bad.”
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead on Gilbert’s power-play goal at 1:14 of the second. Gilbert’s shot from the point got past Bernier, who was screened on the play by Florida’s Scottie Upshall. The power-play goal was only the Panthers’ second in their past 53 opportunities.
The Maple Leafs started slow, did not register their first shot until 7:19 in and were outshot 19-4 in the first.
“We didn’t have anything going except one person in the lineup is outstanding for our hockey club, and that was our goaltender,” Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said. “We didn’t seem to have any jump or passion to play the game and it’s kind of mind-boggling right now.”
NOTES: James van Riemsdyk, fighting the flu, flew in Tuesday morning to join the team in time to play in his 300th NHL game. … Kadri has three goals and five assists during his four-game point streak. … Gilbert has 12 points in his last 17 games.