Panthers delaminate, fall to Maple Leafs 6-4

The second of rookie defenseman Dmitry Kulikov's two goals. A big night on the scoreboard for the 19 year-old ends in depressing fashion as Florida drops leads and momentum; the Cats continue to struggle mightily at home.

Pension Plan Puppets * Leafs at Cats GameDay Central * Boxscore

Ugly. Sickening. Disgusting. And that was just the crowd.

An announced attendance of 16,101 - on a Friday evening, with an abundance of $10 tickets (among other incentives) available, and the Toronto Maple Leafs as a ferociously strong drawing card considering the snowbirds have arrived in SoFla - was rather unimpressive. Downright embarrassing.

Folks who stayed away missed dual items of importance: the first two-goal game of Dmitry Kulikov's career, and the Panthers' collective inability to hold a lead finally bite them in the standings.

An eight-game point-streak was snapped - hard - while divisional opponents Atlanta and Tampa Bay advanced to a three-point lead over the Cats.

Leafs' coach Ron Wilson simply wove magic out of his troops, coaxing Phil Kessel and former Panther Niklas Hagman into two goals apiece, a four-point performance from Alex Ponikarovsky, and a less than awe-inspiring yet good enough to seal the deal 26 saves from Jonas Gustavsson.

Peter DeBoer's boys couldn't conform to Toronto's adjustments, despite Dennis Seidenberg's two assists, Radek Dvorak's splendid hustle (1g on 5 shots), and Tomas Vokoun's 27 saves.

This was a classic Florida meltdown, and it could be felt long before the Panthers lost their two-goal lead. Just a bizarre night on many counts.

The real entertainment came at the 11:12 mark of the first period, when Colton Orr and Steve MacIntyre decided to exchange phone numbers:

What more can be said other than someone's got to take the fall for a game the Panthers had no right - statistically - to lose?

Anyway, back at it tonight against the Predators. Which begs a question: Why did Scott Clemmensen not get the nod last night, freeing up Vokoun to start against his former club?