MAPLE LEAFS (5-11-7) at PANTHERS (10-9-4)
Last 10 -- Maple Leafs 4-4-2; Panthers 5-2-3
Season series -- This is the first of four meetings between Toronto and Florida this season. Florida swept the season series in 2008-09, winning twice in overtime.
Big story -- The Panthers will attempt to extend their season-high eight-game point streak (5-0-3) while also trying to get back into the win column for the first time since a 3-2 victory over the Rangers at MadisonSquareGarden this past Saturday. The Leafs have gained at least a point in four straight games (2-0-2) and they are coming off a 4-3 win over TampaBay on Wednesday.
Maple Leafs -- The Leafs will try to make it 2-for-2 in Florida after Jonas Gustavsson delivered 28 saves and Niklas Hagman two goals at Tampa on Wednesday. The win was of course rare for the Leafs, who have only five on the season. However, they have produced 14 goals over this past four-game stretch, including five in a shootout loss to Carolina and four against the Bolts. Their maligned defense answered the bell in the third period in Tampa, limiting the Lightning to only six shots. Gustavsson stopped them all, allowing Matt Stajan's goal with 1:47 left in the second period to stand up as the winner.
"The whole third period, I think, that was the best play we've shown so far this season when we've had the lead," Gustavsson told the media following Wednesday's game. "We took total control of the game."
Panthers -- They have to be happy about getting a point in eight straight games, but the Panthers have lost two straight since that win at MSG, and both losses were at home. They've scored only three goals in the last two games (a 2-1 shootout loss to the Rangers and 3-2 OT loss to the Penguins), and only eight goals in the last four games. They have also gone 14 straight power plays without a goal and have converted on just 11 of 89 this season for an NHL-worst 12.4 percent. The good news is coach Pete DeBoer was thrilled to see his team stick up for one another against the Rangers. Steve MacIntyre fought Donald Brashear and Victor Oreskovich knocked Wade Redden out of the game with a huge hit and also laid a big check on Vinny Prospal before being jumped by Matt Gilroy, who received an instigator minor, a fighting major and a 10-minute misconduct.
"Mac jumping in and Vic standing up for himself…that's the type of team we have to be," DeBoer told reporters. "We have to stand up for each other and stand up for ourselves and be hard to play against here at home. I thought it was a real good effort."
Who's hot -- For the Leafs, Stajan has a goal and a pair of assists in the last two games and 3 goals and 5 assists in the last seven, while Hagman has 4 goals in the last three games (at least one in each) and five in the last five after going nine straight without one. AHL call-up Carl Gunnarsson had three assists in the win over Tampa. … For the Panthers, before he was held off the scoresheet despite playing 24:17 on Wednesday, Nathan Horton had points in six straight games (3-5-8) while Stephen Weiss, who played 25:11 against the Rangers, had points in four straight games (2-4-6) before Wednesday's game. Tomas Vokoun has a .941 save percentage over his last four games (127 saves against 135 shots).
Injury report -- Toronto will be without goalie Vesa Toskala (groin), forward John Mitchell (knee) and defenseman Mike Komisarek (quad). Panthers' forwards David Booth, Cory Stillman and Nick Tarnasky are all on injured reserve. Gregory Campbell, who has been out for three games with a shoulder injury, could be back Friday.
Stat pack -- The Leafs are now 4-3-7 in games decided by one goal this season while the Panthers are 6-3-4. Toronto has the most shots per game in the League (34.7) and the second most shots in the League (799) but just a .214 winning percentage (3-7-4) when they outshoot their opponents. On the other hand, the Panthers allow the second most shots per game (35.4) and are 27th in total shots against (815) but they are 8-5-4 in games when they have been outshot.
Puck drop -- "It looks like and feels like we're getting our legs under us," Hagman told the Toronto Star in discussing the Leafs recent play. "We're creating more chances. When you do that, you tend to hit one or two now and then."