TORONTO - Joffrey Lupul scored two third-period goals to rally the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.
Lupul's power-play goal 22 seconds into the third put Toronto ahead 2-1 before Florida tied it 23 seconds later when Shawn Matthias banked in the puck off the skate of Leafs' defenceman Mike Kostka in front. But Lupul brought the Air Canada Centre gathering of 19,379 to its feat at 3:12 with his second of the game.
Lupul has held the hot scoring hand for Toronto with six goals in four games since returning from a broken forearm. He also scored in the Leafs' 3-2 shootout loss Monday night against Boston, giving him three goals in two games since returning from a two-game suspension.
But Toronto goaltender Ben Scrivens preserved the one-goal advantage with a fine glove save off Florida's Tyson Strachan with 7:15 remaining in the third and was solid in stopping 40 shots.
Dion Phaneuf also scored for Toronto (18-12-4), which was playing its third game in four nights. The Leafs return to action Thursday night hosting the Carolina Hurricanes.
With the win, Toronto improved to 9-6-2 at home to remain sixth in the Eastern Conference with 40 points, two behind fifth-place Ottawa. But the Leafs became the fifth team in the conference to reach the 40-point plateau.
Tomas Fleischmann had the other goal for Florida (9-19-6), which was coming off a 3-0 road loss to the New York Islanders on Sunday night. The Panthers, who are last in the Eastern Conference, suffered their third straight loss concluding a five-game road trip.
Florida looked very much the fresher squad in the first, outshooting Toronto 16-7 and registering the period's lone goal. Fleischmann scored at 6:39, getting credit for his seventh of the season when his shot deflected off Toronto defenceman Mark Fraser and past Scrivens.
Toronto had a good scoring chance less than two minutes into the second. A Florida defenceman fell at the Leafs' blue-line, giving Mikhail Grabovski a clear breakway but he fell shortly after crossing the Panthers' line and didn't get a shot on goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who finished the game with 28 saves.
Phaneuf tied it at 9:41, blasting his sixth of the season from just outside the right faceoff circle. Matt Frattin just missed putting Toronto ahead 2-1 when his backhand hit the post and stayed loose behind Markstrom before he eventually covered it up.
NOTES ??? Markstrom came in on a nice roll, having stopped 111-of-114 shots he had faced in his previous three starts (.973 save percentage) . . . Scrivens stopped 37 shots in Toronto's 3-0 road win over Florida on Feb. 18 . . . Toronto entered action leading the NHL in hits (1,075), blocked shots (553) and fighting majors (33).