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Toronto Maple Leafs forward colton Orr celebrates the game winning goal with teammates while playing against the Florida Panthers during third period NHL action in Toronto on Tuesday, October 26, 2010. (NATHAN DENETTE)
Toronto Maple Leafs forward colton Orr celebrates the game winning goal with teammates while playing against the Florida Panthers during third period NHL action in Toronto on Tuesday, October 26, 2010. (NATHAN DENETTE)

Blown call pays off for Leafs Add to ...

With his team in a three-game funk and unable to buy a goal, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson had been preaching all week for his troops to go hard to the net.

On Tuesday in a 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers, it was enforcer Colton Orr who finally answered that call, barrelling into netminder Scott Clemmensen with nine minutes left in the game and then tipping home teammate Tim Brent's shot for the winner.

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Orr should have been penalized on the play for the contact but wasn't - a lucky break that improved Toronto's record to 5-2-1 - and the blown call was a deciding factor in a game that to that point had had few.

Florida had entered the game billed as a scrappy, trapping group, and certainly delivered on that front, putting as many bodies as possible in front of their goalie in their own zone and checking the game to a standstill.

It was a style right out of the NHL's dead puck era - and it nearly paid off. Until Orr's controversial goal, only two power play markers beat either netminder and the game appeared headed for overtime or a shootout.

Orr's go-ahead marker, however, forced the Panthers to open the game up, and with Florida pressing late, Leafs sniper Phil Kessel picked up his seventh of the season on a breakaway to salt away the win.

Power plays

The game's first two goals came on the power play, an anomaly for two teams that have laboured on the man advantage this season.

Without much room to manoeuvre at even strength on Tuesday, Leafs centre Tyler Bozak ended his goal drought with his first of the season to open the scoring with 41 seconds left in the first period.

Panthers defenceman Dennis Wideman then made it 1-1 late in the second with Bozak in the box for tripping. It was only the second goal of the season for Florida's league-worst power play, which improved to 2 for 26.

Toronto's man advantage hasn't been much better, entering the game at only 12.5 per cent - slightly below last season's league-worst pace. The Leafs improved to 15 per cent after scoring once on two opportunities on Tuesday.

In goal

Panthers backup Scott Clemmensen got his first start of the season and was once again terrific playing back in Toronto. A former minor-leaguer in the Leafs system, Clemmensen was the first star in a 4-1 win last March at the Air Canada Centre and deserved mention on Tuesday with 24 saves in the loss.

Clemmensen was particularly sharp late in the second with his team killing a penalty and the game tied, denying Nikolai Kulemin on a one-timer in close, and couldn't be blamed on the winner given he was bowled over from behind.

At the other end of the ice, Leafs netminder Jean-Sebastien Giguere was merely solid in his sixth start in eight games this season, making 21 saves to bring his record to 4-1-1 on the year.

Injury watch

Leafs winger Colby Armstrong played only 52 seconds due to a slash to the hand or arm early in the first period. He didn't return to the game due to what the team called an "upper body injury."

McCabe came back

Former Leafs defenceman and current Panthers captain Bryan McCabe got his typical chilly reception from the Air Canada Centre crowd, hearing boos every time he touched the puck more than two years after he was dealt away from Toronto.

McCabe, 35, is off to a strong start this season in Florida with six points and a plus-4 rating in seven games and said he hopes to re-sign with the Panthers and potentially finish his career there.

He is in the final season of a controversial five-year, $28.75-million deal that former Leafs GM John Ferguson signed him to in 2006 after a 68-point career year.

"Playing in Florida, you can get away from the game," McCabe said. "You can go to the movies or dinner and no one brings up hockey. Minus getting people in the building, it's great place to play hockey. I love it down there."

 

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