TORONTO -- Playing the second half of back-to-back games, the Toronto Maple Leafs refused to use fatigue as an excuse. Air Force 1 Clearance . Coach Randy Carlyle noticed his players were tired and how much that played a role in a 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre. But inside the locker room the talk was much more about a lack of execution. "Theres never an excuse: Injuries, tired, its all B.S.," goaltender James Reimer said. "Those are all excuses. Theyre useless." Winger Mason Raymond, who scored Torontos only goal, scoffed that he and his teammates "simply got embarrassed." They committed turnovers that led to all three Panthers goals and were never really able to keep up. "I echo those remarks as something that we cannot be proud of our performance tonight," Carlyle said after the Leafs (17-16-3) lost for the fifth time in their past six games. Tomas Fleischmann, Sean Bergenheim and Brad Boyes scored for the Panthers (13-17-5), who won their fourth straight and sixth in their past seven games. With the victory, Florida crept to within six points of Toronto for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. "Were looking for progress," coach Peter Horacek said. "Were looking for consistency in our play." The Panthers certainly showed more consistency Tuesday than the Leafs, who couldnt get much of an attack going until the third period when Raymonds goal broke up Scott Clemmensens shutout and cut the deficit to two goals. Before that, Carlyle bemoaned his team being on the wrong end of far too many 50/50 puck battles. It didnt matter that the Panthers have the lowest payroll in the NHL because they didnt look like it. Torontos lacklustre play helped. "We just didnt play well enough. Thats the bottom line," Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf said. "We take pride in being a team that doesnt get outworked. Tonight we were outworked." Couple that with mistakes at inopportune times and the result was the Leafs 12th loss in 18 games at Air Canada Centre this season. Each of Floridas goals came as a result of a noticeable turnover. Centre Nazem Kadri was the first Leafs player to make a costly error, before some of the 19,076 fans even settled into their seats. Kadri lost the puck at the Panthers blue-line, and seconds later Fleischmann had a jump on Carl Gunnarsson and beat Reimer to make it 1-0 just 3:29 in. Sloppy play continued, but it didnt hurt the Leafs again until a disastrous defensive-zone shift in the second. Defenceman Jake Gardiner put the puck right on Bergenheims stick, but Reimer made a stop to keep the threat at bay. When the Leafs couldnt clear it, Bergenheim got it back in front and scored 5:54 into the second. "We had clear-cut possession of the puck, won a faceoff, it goes back to (Gardiner), they end up with a breakaway out of it," Carlyle said. "Its pretty hard to defend a player in that position, and I told him so. Youve got to expect to have a higher level of execution than that in that situation." Boos predictably followed, and then continued when Phaneufs turnover directly contributed to the Panthers third goal of the game. Boyes poked the puck away from Phaneuf and scored seconds later on his own rebound thanks to some help from Bergenheim in front. "I made some mistakes tonight that are unacceptable," Phaneuf said. "Take responsibility for it." It couldve been even uglier had the Panthers converted on a short-handed odd-man rush in the third period. Shawn Matthias missed a wide-open net, and Toronto didnt have to stare down a four-goal deficit. The Leafs cut it to 3-1 not long after on their most opportunistic play of the night. Centre Peter Holland, filling in amid injuries to Dave Bolland and Tyler Bozak, held onto the puck long enough to get some traffic in front, and Raymond tipped the puck past Clemmensen 3:43 into the third. "I thought we got a little life after that," Raymond said. "We played some better hockey then." Aided by that third-period onslaught, Toronto outshot Florida 29-23, but Carlyle didnt like the lack of second opportunities. "I classified our game as we tried to plan shinny against an NHL hockey club tonight," he said. Clemmensen, who made 28 saves for the victory, was hardly stressed for most of the game. The veteran netminder acknowledged, as did Horachek and other Panthers players, that the Leafs were tired. But it was incumbent on the visitors to take advantage of that. "We were hoping to have a little bit more energy than they had," Clemmensen said. "Fortunately for us, we kept them off the board until the third period. That, in turn, kept the crowd out of it. That was big." This was their third victory in the past two weeks against a team being featured on HBOs "24/7" program. Florida beat the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 7 and Dec. 10. As for the Leafs, the frustrating is growing bigger amid losses. And with the excuses thrown out, answers are also lacking. "Everyone is trying to turn it around," centre Jay McClement said. "It seems like we need all of us to step up and take the reins and change things. But it seems like were waiting too long to do that." NOTES -- Centre Trevor Smith broke a bone in his right hand when blocking a shot from the Panthers Shawn Matthias in the third period, Carlyle said. Smith has four goals and five assists in 24 games this season. ... Last years Calder Trophy winner, Jonathan Huberdeau, missed his second straight game with a foot injury. Horachek said the Saint-Jerome, Que., native could have played and is hopefully on target to be in the lineup Thursday when Florida visits the Ottawa Senators. Air Force 1 For Sale . TSN 1290s coverage begins with Hustler & Lawless at 3pm. Rick Ralph hosts the Official Jets Pre-game Show at 5pm. Air Force 1 Replica .The Canadiens will visit the Boston Bruins at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on New Years Day 2016, taking hockeys oldest rivalry outside.It was special in 2010 just to be there with the history behind Fenway Park and all that, Bruins centre Patrice Bergeron said.Free agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta and the St. Louis Cardinals have agreed on a four-year contract, giving the All-Star a fresh start after his Biogenesis drug suspension last summer. The Cardinals filled a need by getting a top-hitting shortstop a month after losing the World Series in six games to Boston. Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso, while generally good fielders, are light hitters. The deal was expected to be worth more than $50 million. "We are pleased to announce that Jhonny has agreed to terms and I know he is equally excited to be joining the Cardinals," general manager John Mozeliak said in a statement. "Jhonny is among the games top offensive shortstops, hes a steady defender and he has experience playing for a contender. He gives us proven veteran experience and brings balance and versatility to our everyday lineup. " But the move drew a different reaction from a couple other big leaguers. "It pays to cheat... Thanks, owners, for encouraging PED use," Arizona pitcher Brad Ziegler tweeted. "Apparently getting suspended for PEDs means you get a raise. Whats stopping anyone from doing it? (hashtag)weneedtomakeachange," free agent pitcher David Aardsma tweeted. The 31-year-old Peralta was suspended 50 games last season as a result of Major League Baseballs investigation in the Biogenesis case involving perrformance-enhancing drugs. Air Force 1 Online. He returned to the Detroit Tigers in late September and played in the post-season, both in left field and at shortstop. Shortly before Peralta was penalized, the Tigers acquired young shortstop Jose Iglesias from Boston in a three-team trade. Peralta hit .303 with 11 home runs and 55 RBIs in 107 games during the regular season, then batted .333 with one homer, four doubles and six RBIs in 10 playoff games. The two-time All-Star is a career .268 hitter with 156 homers and 698 RBIs in 11 seasons with Cleveland and Detroit. The NL champion Cardinals have been busy since the season ended. A few days ago, they sent third baseman David Freese, a hometown product and the 2011 World Series MVP, to the Los Angeles Angels for outfielder Peter Bourjos in a four-player trade. The Cardinals cut about $45 million off last seasons payroll, and wanted to plug a hole at shortstop. St. Louis lost All-Star Rafael Furcal in spring training for the whole year because of elbow surgery. Detroit did not extend a qualifying offer to Peralta, meaning there would be no compensation draft pick involved in his move from the AL Central champions to the NL Central winners. Earlier this off-season, the Tigers traded first baseman Prince Fielder to Texas for second baseman Ian Kinsler in a swap of All-Stars with rich contracts. ' ' '