Panthers end losing streak, defeat Maple Leafs
Vincent Trocheck had an assist in his return to help the Florida Panthers end a seven-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs at BB&T Center on Friday.
Trocheck, who missed 27 games because of a fractured right ankle sustained against the Ottawa Senators on Nov. 19, assisted on defenseman Mike Matheson’s goal at 14:59 of the first period that gave the Panthers a 2-1 lead. Trocheck had three shots on goal, a game-high seven hits and was plus-2 in 18:12 of ice time.
“It was awesome,” Trocheck said. “Never felt better. Just thankful that I’m able to come back and play hockey again. It’s been a long time coming. You never really realize how much you miss hockey until you’re watching your teammates play and you’re not able to.”
Ron Hainsey scored for the Maple Leafs (29-16-2), who lost for the sixth time in nine games (3-6-0). Toronto was playing the second game of a back-to-back after defeating the League-leading Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 on Thursday.
“We kind of dig ourselves into a bit of a hole there early,” Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews said. “You have to be ready every game. It doesn’t matter who you are playing or what the turnaround is. There was no excuse … we have to be ready to play.”
Garret Sparks made 26 saves in his first game since sustaining a concussion in practice Jan. 2.
“I felt good,” he said. “I felt more like myself than I have all season. I felt composed, I felt strong. I felt quick. I’m not happy with the result, but I’m happy with how many saves I made. Obviously still work to be done. All you can do is make as many saves as you can and try to give your team a chance.”