The Toronto Maple Leafs are experiencing their longest winning streak of the season. With their recent play on the road and against the Florida Panthers, they have a good shot at continuing that run.
The Maple Leafs go for their seventh straight win over the Panthers as the teams meet Thursday at the BankAtlantic Center.
Toronto (7-4-3) has outscored Florida 21-10 in six consecutive wins, beginning with a 5-0 victory on March 9, 2004. Four of those wins have been decided by one goal, including a 2-1 shootout victory Oct. 9.
The Maple Leafs trailed 2-1 heading into the third period Wednesday, but scored three unanswered goals in a 4-2 victory over Tampa Bay to extend their winning streak to three games.
"You can't feel a sense of doom being down one," Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice said. "The other team gets paid too, and they do some good things. So we're down one, big deal. Let's go try and get a road win."
Toronto has been getting those wins away from home, going 4-1-1. The Maple Leafs are playing the middle contest of a three-game road trip. It got off to a good start when Hal Gill netted the equalizer in the third period, snapping a 26-game goal-scoring drought with his 100th career point, and Ian White scored the go-ahead goal on a power play.
"A goal is a goal, and fortunately enough it happened to be at the right time of the game to get the win," White said. "It's a nice to get a game winner."
Tomas Kaberle's first-period goal was his fifth goal in three games, and also his 300th career point. He has the chance to extend that streak against former teammate Ed Belfour, who is 2-2-1 with a 3.01 goals-against average in seven games for Florida this season, including five starts.
The Leafs decided against keeping the 41-year-old goaltender at the end of last season, instead acquiring 26-year-old Andrew Raycroft. Belfour, who went 93-61-4 with 11 ties and a 2.51 GAA in three seasons with the Maple Leafs, signed a one-year deal with the Panthers (5-7-2) to back up Alex Auld.
Belfour and Auld have alternated starts recently, and Auld was in goal for Tuesday's 2-1 loss to San Jose. The Panthers gave up a power-play goal with 35.8 seconds to play, suffering their third straight loss and ninth in 11 games.
"I thought we played a very good game against a very good hockey club," Panthers coach Jacques Martin said. "To lose it that way it's difficult, but we've got to bounce back."
Florida is playing the middle contest of a three-game homestand, where it has lost consecutive games after starting the season 4-0. Olli Jokinen has played especially well at home, recording 12 of his 13 points there, including the lone goal in Tuesday's defeat.
The Panthers have played three consecutive games without center Joe Nieuwendyk, who has a back injury, and continues to be without Todd Bertuzzi. The right wing has been sidelined since Oct. 18 with a herniated disc that isn't responding to injections, Florida spokesman Justin Copertino said Wednesday.
Copertino said no decision has been made whether Bertuzzi will undergo surgery.