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Panthers end road trip with tough 1-0 loss to Maple Leafs

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Andersen stops 40 shots to stymie Cats

NHL: Florida Panthers at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

After getting thrashed in Winnipeg, the Florida Panthers bounced back to give the Toronto Maple Leafs all they could handle at the Air Canada Centre. Unfortunately, the Cats could not find a way to light the lamp and fell to the host Buds 1-0.

James van Riemsdyk scored the only goal of the game with 29 seconds left in the first period. Tyler Bozak found van Reimsdyk open in the left circle and he took the pass and quickly slung the puck through Roberto Luongo’s five-hole to cap off some good cycling by the Maple Leafs. Defenseman Jake Gardiner drew the second assist on van Riemsdyk’s 25th of the season.

Frederik Andersen made 40 saves, including 15 in the third with the Panthers dominating play, to keep Florida off the board. One of his best of the night came in the middle frame when he denied Colton Sceviour on shorthanded breakaway.

Roberto Luongo, in his second start since coming off injured reserve, delivered a quality performance, finishing with 30 stops. Sure, he would like van Reimsdyk shot back, but other than that, Luongo looked very sharp. Here, he comes up with a big stop on Gardiner to keep his club within striking distance.

For the second time this season, the Panthers and Maple Leafs played a taut game that ended in a one-goal decision. This time, it was Florida that got the short end of the stick, leaving Toronto with no points and a second straight loss. All in all, a 3-2 road trip is a successful one and the Cats deserved a better fate last night, so they have just got to keep doing what they’ve been doing since returning from the All-Star break (7-3) and they should remain in the hunt. The Panthers will play 11 of its next 12 games at home ice, starting Thursday night against Washington. Columbus now holds the second wild card in the east, with Florida seven points back with three games in hand.

Full Highlights (courtesy of NHL.com)

Rakes & Bags

  • Frederik Andersen won his 30th game of the season (30-16-4) and posted his fifth shutout, a career-high.
  • Jake Gardiner’s secondary assist on the game’s only goal was his 200th NHL point and came in his 469th game.
  • Nick Bjugstad led all skaters with five shots on goal. Bjugstad was also credited with two hits and won his only faceoff.
  • James van Riemsdyk has scored goals in five of his past seven games. The 28-year-old needs six more to break his career-best of 30, set in 2013-14.
  • Keith Yandle suited up for his 800th career game. The 31-year-old blueliner owns the NHL’s longest active streak with 689 consecutive games played.
  • Both teams went 0 for 2 on the power play . The Panthers PK is 22nd in the league with a 79.4 kill percentage,
  • Get your strings pulled at Pension Plan Puppets. Third meeting between Toronto and Florida is in just six days.

Condensed Game (courtesy of NHL.com)