Goalline thievery by Toskala

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:20 AM ET

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Upon further review, it was one of the most stunning saves of the NHL season.

Then again, for Maple Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala, these highlight-reel stops are becoming commonplace.

With the Maple Leafs nursing a 1-0 lead late in the second period, a juicy rebound came to the stick of Florida Panthers' Brett McLean. With teammate Kamil Kreps appearing to block out the Toronto goalie, McLean looked to have a tap-in with three quarters of the net staring him in the face.

As quick as he could flick the puck, however, Toskala was even faster, scooping the shot out of mid-air before it crossed the goal line.

"He had an open net there but I was able to see the puck all the time," Toskala said after the Leafs' 2-1 overtime victory. "I think I kind of had it under control."

CAST A GLANCE

With the puck nestled in Toskala's catching mitt, McLean glanced over at him.

"He gave me a little smile and I gave him one back, too," Toskala said.

Officials did check instant replay to ensure his glove was not over the line when he made the sparkling catch.

The goaltending duel between Toskala and the Panthers' Tomas Vokoun, two of the major acquisitions in the NHL during the off-season, certainly lived up to its billing. Both men made 29 stops on the night, many of those of the difficult variety.

The difference ended up being a late penalty to the Panthers' Richard Zednik, allowing Pavel Kubina to rip home the winner 34 seconds into overtime with the Leafs enjoying a 4-on-3 advantage.

Interestingly, the Panthers had kicked a few tires about the availability of Toskala while he was still a San Jose Shark.

In the end, the Leafs pulled the trigger on a Toskala deal during the June entry draft in Columbus, leaving the Panthers to trade for Vokoun from Nashville shortly afterward.

"We had talks during the season last year, and after the season was over, but we never pursued it aggressively," Panthers general manager Jacques Martin said of his interest in Toskala.

"We made the deal with Nashville for Tomas because it was a better deal for us."


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