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Leafs Face Panthers, Red-Hot Luongo

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs

GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (34-17-9-3) at Florida Panthers (22-25-13-3).

TIME: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

The Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs are playing their best hockey at the right time.

The Panthers will look to tie their longest unbeaten streak in more than four years, while the Maple Leafs will try to extend their road unbeaten run to eight games when they teams meet in Florida.

Florida extended its unbeaten run to four (2-0-2) and handed Boston its first regulation loss in 13 games with Monday's 2-0 victory at FleetCenter. The Panthers haven't gone unbeaten in five straight since a five-game winning streak from Jan. 8-17, 2000.

Roberto Luongo made 38 saves for his fifth shutout of the season, and Darcy Hordichuk and Andreas Lilja scored as Florida improved to 4-2-2 under new coach John Torchetti and moved into 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

Luongo has lost just twice in his last eight starts, posting a 1.23 goals-against average over that span.

"He's like our sixth defenceman, and you know you can take extra chances," Hordichuk said of Luongo. "That's why he's been an All-Star. If guys don't think he's the real deal, he's proven them wrong."

Toronto fell 2-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday for its third loss in its last four home games.

The Maple Leafs, however, are riding a 6-0-1 surge away from the Air Canada Centre. Toronto went unbeaten in a franchise-record nine straight road games during the 1947-48 season.

Leafs backup goalie Mikael Tellqvist made his third straight start Monday in place of injured Ed Belfour. Tellqvist lost for the first time this season, but continues to make a strong case to remain the backup when Belfour returns.

Belfour has missed nine of the last 10 games because of a back injury. Regular backup Trevor Kidd is 1-3-1 while allowing 22 goals in his last five starts.

"We can't blame it on him. He had an excellent game," Toronto captain Mats Sundin said after Tellqvist made 27 saves on Monday. "He gave us a chance, and that's all you can ask. We have to get better."

-- Associated Press

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