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Auld's stellar performance almost sinks Leafs

"Alex played an outstanding game," Panthers coach Jacques Martin said of Auld, who made 47 saves in regulation and overtime. "He made a lot of big saves. (Toronto) had some great chances on their power play, and he gave us the chance to win the hockey game."

Auld, traded to the Panthers along with Todd Bertuzzi for Roberto Luongo this summer, nearly single-handedly led Florida (1-1-1) to a win with a number of eye-popping saves - including a glove save early in the third period on Darcy Tucker that preserved a 1-0 lead for the Panthers.

However, the Maple Leafs kept driving at Auld, and Kyle Wellwood's slapshot goal midway through the third sent the game to extra time. From there, shootout goals by Mats Sundin and Tucker robbed Florida of an extra point in the standings.

That fact stuck in the craw of the Auld and the Panthers.

"It's a little frustrating," Auld (1-0-1) said of his first loss in a Panthers uniform. "To come that close to winning here, obviously it's tough to not (win) but you've got to look forward and move on."

"Alex was phenomenal for us," added Panthers center Stephen Weiss. "It was too bad we couldn't get him the two points."

Despite playing as Vancouver's top goalie in 2005-06, Auld hasn't yet been acclaimed as Florida's No. 1. The Thunder Bay, Ont., native must still fight it out with Ed Belfour for that honour, but if he continues to perform as he did Monday, he'll be the undisputed starter soon.

"I don't really know how to explain it," Auld said of his superb night. "When it happens, it happens, and that's why it's so frustrating to not get a win in a game like that."

Martin said Auld's best may yet be to come.

"You look at his performance last year, and he won 33 games," Martin said. "He's a goalie that still has an upside, and he's showing what kind of goaltender he is."



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