In their last game, the Toronto Maple Leafs got a big boost from the return of two forwards. On Thursday, they might get even more help.
Toronto right wing Darcy Tucker hopes to return to the lineup when the Maple Leafs visit the Florida Panthers.
Center Nik Antropov and left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky each had a goal and an assist as they returned from the injured reserve list in Toronto's 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Antropov missed 17 games due to an ankle injury and Ponikarovsky had been sidelined for 11 games with a shoulder injury.
Antropov now has six goals and seven assists in 19 games this season, while Ponikarovsky has 12 goals and 14 assists in 36 contests.
Tucker, who has missed six games with a foot injury, has 19 goals and 12 assists in 39 games. He said Tuesday that he was still sore, but hopes to return for this matchup.
Tuesday's victory was just the second in five games for the Maple Leafs (21-20-6), who were making the first stop on a three-game road trip. Alex Steen snapped a third-period tie with a power-play goal, giving the second-year center six goals and four assists in his last six games.
John Pohl also scored for Toronto, which has scored at least four goals in all but one of its victories this season and three or fewer in all but three of its defeats.
"We battled all night. A real good effort," goalie Andrew Raycroft said. "It's a great road win."
Raycroft stopped 21 shots, bouncing back after giving up six goals in a 6-1 loss to Vancouver on Saturday. Raycroft is 19-15-4 with a 3.05 goals-against average in 38 appearances overall this season.
"I don't even know how to describe it. It was amazing," Steen said of Raycroft. "Some of the saves he made were so big. ... We better credit it to him because he was outstanding."
The Panthers (17-21-10) have dropped four of their last six games, including Tuesday's 3-2 overtime loss to Carolina. Florida fell to 0-10 in overtime this season and is the only team in the NHL without a victory after regulation.
Olli Jokinen and Nathan Horton scored for the Panthers, who saw their four-game home winning streak snapped. Florida saw its one-goal lead slip away when Carolina's Erik Cole scored at 13:34 of the third period, before Justin Williams put the puck past Ed Belfour 1:47 into the extra session.
"If you had told us we were going to be ahead with 8 minutes to go in the third, we would have taken that before the game," Panthers center Stephen Weiss said. "We have to find a way to win. It's the same old story. We have to bear down those last minutes."
Center Jozef Stumpel and left wing David Booth each missed the game because of upper-body injuries sustained Saturday against Washington.
Florida has won two of the three meetings between the teams this season.