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Panthers-Maple Leafs Preview @NHL
Panthers-Maple Leafs Preview

GAME: Florida Panthers (6-4-1) at Toronto Maple Leafs (5-4-2).

TIME: Monday, 7:30 p.m. EST.

After his worst performance of the season, Ed Belfour should be happy to face a team he has enjoyed success against recently.

Belfour and the Toronto Maple Leafs hope to avoid their second three-game losing streak of the season when they host the Florida Panthers.

Belfour played just 24 minutes and allowed five goals on 15 shots in Toronto's 8-0 loss Saturday to the Ottawa Senators. It was the Maple Leafs' worst home defeat since a 10-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on March 18, 1989.

"It was pretty lousy, maybe worse than that," Toronto coach Pat Quinn said. "We have to start playing like a team."

Belfour, however, is 3-0-1 with two shutouts and a 1.46 goals-against average in his last four games against Florida.

Saturday's loss also saw the end of a seven-game points streak for Maple Leafs center Eric Lindros, who had seven goals and one assist during the run. In 35 career games against the Panthers, Lindros has 26 goals, including seven game-winners.

The Panthers' home game scheduled for Saturday against the Washington Capitals was postponed due to the effects from Hurricane Wilma in South Florida.

Florida last played Thursday, losing 5-4 in overtime to the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Panthers received goals from four different players, including captain Olli Jokinen, who has a goal and four assists during a three-game points streak.

This game also marks a return to Toronto for future Hall of Famers Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk, who both signed with the Panthers on Aug. 1.

Roberts, a North York, Ontario native, spent the past four seasons with Toronto, averaging 20 goals and 18 assists. He is scoreless in six games with Florida this season.

Nieuwendyk, from Oshawa, Ontario, had 22 goals and 28 assists in 64 games with the Leafs in 2003-04. He has a goal and two assists in seven games this season.

STANDINGS: Panthers - 13 points, 3rd place, 4 PB, Southeast Division. Maple Leafs - 12 points, 5th place, 4 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Panthers - Nathan Horton, 6 goals; Jokinen and Mike Van Ryn, 7 assists; Jokinen, 10 points; Branislav Mezei, 33 PIM. Maple Leafs - Lindros, 8 goals; Bryan McCabe, 12 assists and 15 points; Wade Belak, 33 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Panthers - Power play: 15.2 percent (11 for 72), tied for 23rd in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.1 percent (60 for 73), 15th. Maple Leafs - Power play: 26.6 percent (20 for 75), 2nd. Penalty killing: 85.5 percent (59 for 69), 7th.

GOALTENDERS: Panthers - Roberto Luongo (6-4-0, 2 SO, 2.59 GAA); Jamie McLennan (0-0-0, 1.13). Maple Leafs - Belfour (4-3-0, 3.79); Mikael Tellqvist (1-1-0, 2.03).

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 2-1-1.

LAST MEETING: March 9, 2004; Maple Leafs, 5-0. At Toronto, Roberts scored twice and Belfour makes 15 saves for the Leafs.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Panthers - 2-3-1 on the road; Maple Leafs - 3-3-1 at home.

Associated Press
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