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Maple Leafs return home to face Panthers

by Brian Hunter

PANTHERS (9-18-6) at MAPLE LEAFS (17-12-4)


Last 10: Florida 2-7-1; Toronto 3-3-4

Season series: Second of three meetings. Ben Scrivens stopped all 37 shots he faced and the Maple Leafs got a goal and an assist each from Nazem Kadri and Clarke MacArthur in a 3-0 win over the Panthers on Feb. 18 in Florida.

Big story: With a victory Tuesday, Toronto would become the fourth team in the Northeast Division to reach 40 points this season, joining Montreal, Boston and Ottawa. To put that in perspective, only one other Eastern Conference club outside the division (Pittsburgh) and four Western Conference squads (Chicago, Anaheim, Minnesota and Vancouver) have at least 40 points.

Team Scope:

Panthers: This is the finale of a five-game road trip for Florida, which started with a pair of victories against playoff contenders in Carolina and the New York Rangers before dropping the next two against New Jersey and the New York Islanders. The Panthers scored just once over the weekend, getting edged 2-1 by the Devils and falling 3-0 on Long Island. Jacob Markstrom stopped 34 of 35 shots Sunday to keep his team in the game until the final minute, when the Islanders put a pair of pucks into the empty net.

"We have to find some production," coach Kevin Dineen said. "We have to keep encouraging some of the plays that are creating chances for, but we need some finish right now. We need some opportunistic guys to step up and say there's a heck of a lot of opportunity for them to produce right now. Unfortunately, it's not happening yet."

Maple Leafs: Aiming for a home-and-home sweep after its first win over Boston in nine tries, Toronto got off to the start it wanted Monday as Joffrey Lupul returned from a two-game suspension to open the scoring with a power-play goal in the second period and Nikolai Kulemin later doubled the lead. But the Bruins, who have seen opponents rally on them with regularity of late, staged their own comeback this time around. They scored a goal in the second, another in the third and eventually dealt the Maple Leafs a 3-2 defeat via the shootout.

"We definitely feel good about the way we've played," captain Dion Phaneuf said. "We're not happy with not getting two points, but we'll take three out of four and move forward, and focus on getting ready for Florida. That's what you have to do."

Who's hot: Markstrom has allowed just a single goal in each of his past three starts for the Panthers, making 111 saves over that span, or an average of 37 per game. … Kadri has three goals and seven assists during a five-game points streak for the Maple Leafs. Lupul has four goals and one assist during a three-game points streak. Kulemin has three goals in his past five games.

Injury report: Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson (flu-like symptoms) and forward Jack Skille (upper body) missed Sunday's game on Long Island. Goalie Jose Theodore (groin), defensemen Michael Caruso (wrist), Mike Weaver (lower body) and Ed Jovanovski (lower body) and forwards Stephen Weiss (wrist), Kris Versteeg (knee) and George Parros (upper body) are on injured reserve. … Toronto defenseman John-Michael Liles (ankle) is day-to-day, while forward Leo Komarov (upper body) is on injured reserve.

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