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Preview: Panthers at Maple Leafs

Toronto aims to hold onto third place in Atlantic Division; Florida seven points out of second wild card in East

by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Correspondent

PANTHERS (33-31-11) at MAPLE LEAFS (35-24-15)

7:30 p.m. ET; TSN4, FS-F, NHL.TV

 

Panthers team scope

The Florida Panthers are seven points behind the Boston Bruins for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference and 1-2-1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. The Panthers did not hold a morning skate and will play the second of a back-to-back set after losing 4-2 to the Buffalo Sabres on Monday. Goalie James Reimer was pulled after allowing four goals on 22 shots; Reto Berra saved all 10 shots he faced in relief. "We beat Chicago at home 7-0 (on Saturday), played a great game," coach Tom Rowe told the Panthers website following the game. "Reimer holds us in there at the beginning of the game and we get rolling so you would think coming to Buffalo knowing how important this game is, we'd be ready to go. We talked about it, being ready to go right out of the gate but they were more prepared, they were more ready and they won the game. They deserved to win the game." 

 

Maple Leafs team scope

Goalie Curtis McElhinney will start for the Maple Leafs, who are one point ahead of the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division with a game in hand. Goalie Frederik Andersen (upper body) was injured in a 5-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday and will not dress despite taking drills during the morning skate. Garret Sparks will back up McElhinney. "We're not worried about who's playing net for us," defenseman Morgan Rielly said. "We have two great goalies in McElhinney and Freddie (Andersen). As a team, we have to be ready to go out there and play well in front of them and make sure we do our job." Toronto is 4-1-1 since a 7-2 loss to Florida on March 14. "I don't think it was a turning point, I think it was a loss," coach Mike Babcock said. "You get them once in a while during the year. Sometimes it's better to get smacked. When you get smacked, usually you have two periods to watch the clock and it hardly moves. You sit there, take your punishment and get ready for the next day. It's a good reset. We all need to get slapped once in a while." Forward Kasperi Kapanen will make his season debut. He has 43 points (18 goals, 25 assists) in 43 games with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League this season but was sidelined with a lower-body injury from Jan. 13 to March 2. 

 

Panthers projected lineup

Jonathan Huberdeau -- Aleksander Barkov -- Jaromir Jagr

Jussi Jokinen -- Vincent Trocheck -- Reilly Smith

Thomas Vanek -- Nick Bjugstad -- Jonathan Marchessault

Shawn Thornton -- Derek MacKenzie -- Colton Sceviour

Keith Yandle -- Jason Demers

Michael Matheson -- Alex Petrovic

Mark Pysyk -- Jakub Kindl

James Reimer

Reto Berra

Scratched: Michael Sgarbossa

Injured: Roberto Luongo (lower body), Denis Malgin (concussion), Aaron Ekblad (neck)

 

Maple Leafs projected lineup

James van Riemsdyk -- Tyler Bozak -- Mitchell Marner

Leo Komarov -- Nazem Kadri -- Connor Brown

Zach Hyman -- Auston Matthews -- William Nylander

Matt Martin -- Brian Boyle -- Kasperi Kapanen

Morgan Rielly -- Connor Carrick

Jake Gardiner -- Nikita Zaitsev

Matt Hunwick -- Roman Polak

Curtis McElhinney

Garret Sparks

Scratched: Martin Marincin, Alexey Marchenko, Ben Smith

Injured: Frederik Andersen (upper body), Eric Fehr (hand/arm), Nikita Soshnikov (undisclosed), Josh Leivo (undisclosed)

 

Status report

Bozak was absent from the morning skate but will play against the Panthers. … Soshnikov did not practice Monday or skate on Tuesday. Leivo skated with his teammates at the morning skate but will not play. Each remain day to day.

 

Who's hot

Huberdeau has seven points (two goals, five assists) during a three-game point streak. ... Marchessault has six goals during a three-game point streak. ... Nylander has 13 points (four goals, nine assists) during an NHL career-high 11-game point streak. ... Matthews has six points (three goals, three assists) in a five-game point streak.

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