Playoff Hopes: Maple Leafs Edge Panthers in Florida Shootout

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Playoff Hopes: Maple Leafs Edge Panthers in Florida Shootout

The Toronto Maple Leafs aren't about to throw in the towel on a playoff spot.

Mats Sundin scored twice and added one assist as the Maple Leafs edged the Florida Panthers, 4-3, in a shootout before 14,557 spectators at Sunrise's BankAtlantic Center.

The Leafs captain tied the game at 3-3 with just 1:08 remaining in the third period to send the game into overtime.

Blueliner Tomas Kaberle beat Panthers net minder Tomas Vokoun for the lone goal in the shootout as the Leafs won for the fifth time in their past six games.

The victory kept the Leafs slim postseason hopes alive, leaving them six points behind the Buffalo Sabres for the eighth and final spot with 17 games to go in the regular season.

The game was bittersweet for two Panthers last night. Wade Belak and Chad Kilger met their former club just one day after being dealt by the Leafs to the Panthers.

Belak played just over five minutes, but was on the ice when Florida defenseman Jassen Cullimore opened the scoring at 9:27 of the first period. Kilger, meanwhile, had one shot on goal in 14 minutes of action and was a minus one.

Marlie call-up Jeremy Williams had the other Leafs goal, while Cullimore, Brett McLean, and Rostislav Olesz replied for the Panthers.

Both Vokoun and Leafs' puck stopper Vesa Toskala enjoyed solid nights between the pipes. Vokoun made 34 saves on 37 shots, while Toskala turned away 37 of 40 pucks directed at him.

Toronto remains in the Sunshine State until Friday night when they travel to Tampa Bay to meet the Lightning. The Leafs will likely get their first look at net minder Mike Smith in a Lightning uniform. Smith, along with Jussi Jokinen and Jeff Halpern and a fourth round pick were dealt from Dallas for center Brad Richards and goalie Joham Holmqvist during Tuesday's trade deadline.

 

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