Playing before family and friends, Weiss recorded a goal and an assist and Roberto Luongo came within 45 seconds of his seventh shutout of the season as the Florida Panthers edged the Toronto Maple Leafs, 2-1, to snap a four-game winless skid.
Weiss got tickets for 13 of his supporters and did not let them down after assisting on Florida’s first goal just 1:55 into the first period.
The 19-year-old rookie jumped into the play off the bench and left a drop pass at the right faceoff circle for Ivan Novoseltsev, who snapped a wrist shot into the far side of the net 1:55 into the game.
It was Novoseltsev’s ninth goal of the season and first in 19 games.
“We haven’t been sharp early,” Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. “They scored on a bloody line change. Our decision making right now is bad, offensively and defensively.”
Weiss gave Florida a 2-0 lead with 4:22 left with his sixth goal. After Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle turned over the puck at the blue line, Weiss strode through the left circle and blasted a slap shot past goaltender Trevor Kidd.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet. I think it will sink in a little later,” Weiss said after playing his favorite childhood team. “It’s huge just to get a goal. It’s been a bit of a struggle lately. It’s nice to get one and have it be a winner, especially here in Toronto.”
The Maple Leafs went on the power play with three minutes remaining when Ollie Jokinen was called for roughing, but they could not get anything going. They went 0-for-6 with the man advantage, 0-for-4 in the first period.
“We weren’t sharp,” Quinn said. “We got outworked and outplayed. That’s two or three times in a week. The same things that happened earlier in the season are happening again. We don’t want to check, we just want to play offense. But there’s no offensive team work.”
Toronto failed to get a shot on net during a two-man advantage late in the first period. Many of the Maple Leafs’ attempts went wide and they heard boos from the crowd periodically.
“We had a lot of chances, but we didn’t have that edge,” Toronto captain Mats Sundin said. “Sometimes it’s not there. Guys just weren’t sharp.”
Alexander Mogilny spoiled Luongo’s shutout bid when he squeezed the puck through a pile in front of the net and under the goaltender as Toronto played with an extra attacker.
“It’s unfortunate, but getting two points is what matters,” Luongo said.
The Leafs again pulled Kidd and an icing call brought the faceoff into Florida’s zone. Panthers coach Mike Keenan brought Weiss off the bench to take the draw against Sundin with eight seconds left. Weiss was able to tie Sundin up and the Leafs did not get off a good chance before the buzzer sounded.
“He loves playing in Toronto,” Keenan said of Weiss. “He really gets up for the games. It’s nice to see him play like that. Hopefully, he’ll garner some confidence from it.”
Luongo stopped 31 shots for the Panthers, who were 0-3-1 following a season-high three-game winning streak.
Kidd made 30 saves, but Toronto endured its third loss in the last 10 games.