Panthers gain in race with win against Maple Leafs

Mike Brophy  - NHL.com Correspondent | Thursday, 03.26.2015 / 11:30 PM

TORONTO -- Brandon Pirri scored twice to help the Florida Panthers to a 4-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Thursday.

The Panthers (34-26-14) moved within three points of the Ottawa Senators and Boston Bruins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

Ottawa lost to the New York Rangers 5-1 on Thursday, and Boston lost in overtime to the Anaheim Ducks 3-2.

The Maple Leafs (27-42-6) have lost seven in a row and host the Senators on Saturday.

Pirri, a 23-year-old Toronto native, has 20 goals in 41 games, including 11 in his past 13.

"It is really special," Pirri said. "I had a lot of friends and family here tonight, and for my first [NHL] game in here it was great. I played here as an elementary-school player in the city championships and this was my first time back. It was a lot of fun."

Toronto had the better scoring chances in the first period, but Florida took a 3-0 lead in the second.

"It wasn't the start we wanted, but in the second period we showed what we can do," Pirri said. "In the third period I think we took some time off and luckily [goalie Roberto Luongo] held us in the game. If we're going to get in (the playoffs) we're going to have to play a full 60 minutes every night."

Right wing Jaromir Jagr, who was acquired by the Panthers from the New Jersey Devils prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, said a 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday carried over.

"I don't think we had our legs at the start of the game, and I don't think our line (with center Aleksander Barkov and left wing Jonathan Huberdeau) played very well," Jagr said. "I was tired … emotionally tired. It is our job to score goals for this team. The coach has given us the opportunity to play together, and our line didn't do a good job in the first period. Then we got our legs back and we had two or three good chances."

The Panthers continue their five-game road trip with games against the Montreal Canadiens (Saturday), Senators (Sunday) and Bruins (Tuesday).

"I have been here 12 games, and in my opinion we could have won all 12 of those games," said Jagr, who is 7-4-1 with Florida. "We have big bodies and we can cycle and skate. If we play our game, we are a tough team to beat. It's up to us now."

The Panthers took a 2-0 lead when Huberdeau and defenseman Steven Kampfer scored 30 seconds apart.

Huberdeau scored his second goal in as many games, 13th of the season, at 4:23 on a high shot to the glove side of Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier.

Kampfer's sharp-angle slap shot beat Bernier on the short side at 4:53.

Pirri made it 3-0 at 14:34 with a low wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle in the Toronto zone that beat Bernier through the five-hole.

The Maple Leafs replaced Bernier with backup James Reimer following the goal.

Pirri scored an empty-net goal with 1:36 remaining.

Sam Carrick ended Luongo's shutout at 9:13 of the third period with his first NHL goal when he took a pass from defenseman Morgan Rielly, who made an end-to-end rush.

"First of all it was a great play by Morgan Rielly to take it into the zone and take it wide around the [defense]," said Carrick, who played his 14th NHL game. "I kind of went to the net with my stick on the ice and he found me for an open net. It was a great play by Morgan. …

"I kind of blanked out. After thinking about it now, it's kind of a dream come true. I was a little bit surprised the puck came out to me, and I was just happy to put it in."

Scoring Summary
1st Period
2nd Period
04:23FLA Jonathan Huberdeau (13) ASST: Aleksander Barkov (16), Alex Petrovic (3) 1 - 0 FLA
04:53FLA Steven Kampfer (2) ASST: Jaromir Jagr (25), Aleksander Barkov (17) 2 - 0 FLA
14:34FLA Brandon Pirri (19) ASST: Vincent Trocheck (14), Brian Campbell (21) 3 - 0 FLA
3rd Period
09:13TOR Sam Carrick (1) ASST: Morgan Rielly (19), Joakim Lindstrom (5) 3 - 1 FLA
18:24FLA EN - Brandon Pirri (20) ASST: NONE 4 - 1 FLA
Three Stars of the Game
Brandon Pirri
Brandon Pirri
G: 2Shots: 6
A: 0Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 15:59
Aleksander Barkov
Aleksander Barkov
G: 0Shots: 3
A: 2Hits: 0
PTS: 2PIM: 2
+/-: 2TOI: 16:43
Sam Carrick
Sam Carrick
G: 1Shots: 1
A: 0Hits: 6
PTS: 1PIM: 0
+/-: 1TOI: 11:30
Penalty Summary
1st Period
05:56FLA Aleksander Barkov  Delay Gm - Face-off Violation
2nd Period
14:59FLA Shawn Thornton  Roughing against  Andrew MacWilliam
14:59TOR Andrew MacWilliam  Roughing against  Shawn Thornton
14:59TOR Leo Komarov  Roughing against  Derek MacKenzie
14:59FLA Derek MacKenzie  Roughing against  Leo Komarov
15:53FLA Steven Kampfer  Delaying Game-Puck over glass
19:58FLA Dave Bolland  Holding the stick against  Jake Gardiner
3rd Period
14:52TOR Richard Panik  Misconduct (10 min)
16:10TOR Phil Kessel  Interference against  Scottie Upshall
shots by period
Team Stats
Power Plays0/10/3
Faceoff Wins2140
Blocked Shots1313
Penalty Minutes1016
3S. KampferD1023219:56
5A. EkbladD0020019:28
7D. KulikovD0021019:06
11J. HuberdeauL1022014:43
12J. HayesR0003016:48
16A. BarkovC0223216:43
17D. MacKenzieC0002211:56
19S. UpshallR0002011:25
21V. TrocheckC0110015:46
22S. ThorntonL000027:47
24B. BoyesR0012016:06
33W. MitchellD00-10020:36
36J. JokinenL0001017:49
51B. CampbellD0121020:08
63D. BollandC0001215:01
68J. JagrR0121013:44
72A. PetrovicD01-10020:59
73B. PirriC2016015:59
1R. Luongo2425.96060:00
2E. BrewerD00-21018:54
3D. PhaneufD00-21022:48
15J. LindstromC0110012:49
18R. PanikL00-101013:58
19J. LupulL00-10016:57
20D. BoothL0004016:35
21J. van RiemsdykL00-36018:38
33T. ErixonD00-11015:15
36G. McKeggC0000011:56
37C. BaileyC0010011:49
42T. BozakC00-32020:11
44M. RiellyD01-11023:06
47L. KomarovC00-12213:21
51J. GardinerD0000023:24
53S. CarrickC1011011:30
57A. MacWilliamD0000216:33
67B. KozunR00-11012:40
81P. KesselR00-35217:47
34J. Reimer11111.00025:15
45J. Bernier1316.81334:34