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Panthers-Maple Leafs Preview @NHLdotcom

GAME: Florida Panthers (35-34-9) at Toronto Maple Leafs (37-32-8).

TIME: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EDT.

Barely alive in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the Toronto Maple Leafs try to extend their point streak to eight games when they host the Florida Panthers.

Toronto hasn't missed the postseason since 1997-98, but trails eighth place in the East by seven points with just five games remaining.

The Maple Leafs' playoff hopes took a major hit when goaltender Ed Belfour was placed on injured reserve with a back problem on March 11 and backup Mikael Tellqvist struggled. Jean-Sebastien Aubin, though, has restored some hope since being recalled from the AHL on March 14.

Aubin, who played his first six seasons with Pittsburgh, has started the last seven games and has gone 5-0-2 with a 1.82 goals-against average over that span.

In the Leafs' 5-2 win at Philadelphia on Saturday, Aubin stopped 28 shots and Jeff O'Neill scored two power-play goals to pace a unit that went 5-for-8 with the man advantage.

"When you come in here and beat a team like this, you wonder how we have the record we do," O'Neill said.

O'Neill has nine goals and 20 assists in 41 games against the Panthers in his career, and has registered one point in each of the last four meetings.

Following this contest, the Leafs' remaining schedule includes road games against the New York Islanders and Buffalo, and home matchups against Ottawa and Pittsburgh.

Florida, eliminated from playoff contention for the fifth straight season, is coming off a 6-3 win over Tampa Bay on Sunday. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak in which the Panthers were outscored 14-4.

Juraj Kolnik and leading scorer Olli Jokinen each scored twice and goalie Jamie McLennan had 29 saves to win for the second time in seven starts this season.

"We forged ahead and came out strong in the third," said McLennan, whose team scored five times on 18 shots in the final period to erase a 2-1 deficit. "We wanted to have a good showing and we did."

Florida last advanced to the postseason in 1999-2000, when it was swept in four games by eventual Stanley Cup champion New Jersey in the first round.

The Leafs have won all three meetings between these teams this season.

STANDINGS: Panthers - 79 points, 4th place, 29 PB, Southeast Division. Maple Leafs - 82 points, 4th place, 26 PB, Northeast Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Panthers - Jokinen, 36 goals, 47 assists and 83 points; Chris Gratton, 98 PIM. Maple Leafs - Darcy Tucker, 26 goals; Tomas Kaberle, 53 assists; Mats Sundin, 65 points; Bryan McCabe, 112 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS: Panthers - Power play: 15.0 percent (59 for 393), 26th in NHL. Penalty killing: 82.5 percent (400 for 485), 14th. Maple Leafs - Power play: 20.7 percent (97 for 468), 4th. Penalty killing: 79.7 percent (373 for 468), 24th.

GOALTENDERS: Panthers - Roberto Luongo (33-30-9, 4 SO, 2.99 GAA); McLennan (2-4-0, 2.96). Maple Leafs - Aubin (5-0-2, 1, 1.82); Tellqvist (10-10-2, 2, 3.00).

SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 3-0.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 30; Maple Leafs, 4-2. At Sunrise, Fla., Tucker scored and Sundin added three assists as Toronto snapped an eight-game losing streak.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Panthers - 11-23-5 on the road; Maple Leafs - 23-12-3 at home.

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