Series (Game 3 of 4)

Florida leads 2-1

Game 1: Wednesday, October 23rd
Maple Leafs1
Game 2: Wednesday, December 18th
Maple Leafs2Final
Game 3: Wednesday, February 5th
Maple Leafs6Final
Game 4: Monday, March 3rd
Maple Leafs1

Maple Leafs 6

(28-20-1, 61 pts)

Panthers 0

(15-20-8, 48 pts)

7:30 PM ET, February 5, 2003

BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida

1 2 3 T
TOR 1 3 26
FLA 0 0 00

E. Belfour (Maple Leafs - G): Saves: 33, Save Pct.: 1.000

M. Sundin (Maple Leafs - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

R. Reichel (Maple Leafs - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Belfour stops 33 shots for sixth shutout of season

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) -- After a fluke goal staggered the Florida Panthers, the Toronto Maple Leafs wasted little time applying the knockout punch.

Mats Sundin

Toronto scored three goals in the first 4:11 of the second period to grab a 4-0 lead on their way to a 6-0 victory over the slumping Panthers.

"If they get the first one, who knows what happens,'' Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. "We got kind of not a very good one and I think it set them back on edge.

"Then we got two fast ones in the second and it seemed to hurt them spiritually a little bit.''

Mats Sundin, Wade Belak and Tomas Kaberle had the Toronto goals in the second period. Robert Reichel, Shayne Corson and Jyrki Lumme also scored for the Leafs, who extended their winning streak to three games.

But it was the goal by Reichel that turned the game around. With time running out in a scoreless first period, Reichel fired a slap shot from just outside the blue line. The floating shot dropped before getting to Roberto Luongo and trickled through the goalie's pads with 4.1 seconds left.

"It was going toward my blocker side and I just dropped it,'' Luongo said. "I wasn't able to get my stick down in time.

"It wasn't pretty. The puck just dropped. I wasn't able to close up in time. It didn't hit the ice, it just kind of dropped and it dropped five-hole.''

On the other side, Leafs goalie Ed Belfour made 33 saves for his sixth shutout of the season.

"They had a few good chances,'' Belfour said. "But for the most part the guys played really well in front of me.''

Sundin began the second-period onslaught 25 seconds in when he took a pass that deflected off the skate of a Florida player, skated in and deked Luongo out of position.

Then Belak scored his first goal since Dec. 31, 2001 when he grabbed a rebound and put the puck past a sprawling Luongo.

"That was nice, kind of a surprise,'' Belak said. "I had a wide-open net. It was like slow motion to me. I went backhand, forehand, everything was in slow motion.''

Luongo was pulled after Belak's goal, but Kaberle beat him less than three minutes later when he one-timed a slap shot on a power play.

"The first and second goals were fluky, but after that we played a lot better,'' said Sundin, who scored for the third consecutive game. "We were really strong in the first 10 minutes of the second period.''

The Panthers have gone three games without a victory and fell to 1-5-1 in their last seven games. Florida was 0-for-4 on the power play.

"We didn't have a single guy that showed up and played 60 minutes tonight,'' said Florida All-Star center Olli Jokinen. "We need every single guy to play hard every single shift. That's the only way we're going to win hockey games. It's not going to be easy in this league, but that's what we have to do. We can't wait on the next guy.''

Panthers coach Mike Keenan said his team never recovered from the late first-period goal.

"That set us back a little bit,'' he said. "I thought we were going to recover OK. We had a good idea of what we were going to do playing in the second, and then Mats Sundin got in behind our defense on the first shift and that was pretty much the hockey game.

"The margin of success for this particular game is very small. As I said, I thought we could recover after the first goal that shouldn't have gone in and we didn't.''

Game notes

Florida signed Hurme to a three-year contract extension on Wednesday. Hurme has played in 20 games this season. ... "No team can be successful at any level without good goaltending,'' Panthers general manager Rick Dudley said. "We now feel we have the best goaltending tandem in the National Hockey League for years to come.'' ... The Leafs tied the season series at 1-1-1. The teams meet for the fourth and final time March 3 at Toronto. The Panthers have won the season series against the Leafs only once since entering the league in 1993-94. Florida was 2-0 against Toronto in 1995-96, the season the Panthers reached the Stanley Cup Finals. ... Center Matt Cullen and defenseman Pavel Trnka, acquired in a trade with Anaheim on Jan. 30, debuted in Florida uniforms.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press