Skip to main content

Panthers-Maple Leafs Preview @NHLdotcom

The Toronto Maple Leafs have had problems defensively all season. For the Florida Panthers, an inability to stop the puck is a recent affliction.

As a result, there could be plenty of goals scored when the Panthers close a four-game road trip on Tuesday with their first visit to Toronto since an 8-0 win at Air Canada Centre last season.

With goalie Vesa Toskala struggling through his worst season and the team's penalty kill among the league's weakest, the Maple Leafs (16-17-6) rank 28th in the league defensively, giving up 3.44 goals per game.

Toronto opponents have converted 26.6 percent of their power plays, including 6-of-14 in the last four games, while Toskala's 3.24 goals-against average is a career-worst by half a goal.

The Leafs had allowed 36 goals in their last eight games entering Saturday's contest against Ottawa, but they're hoping a 3-1 win over their provincial rivals is a positive sign. Toskala made 30 saves, stopping all 22 Senators shots in the second and third periods as Alexei Ponikarovsky scored the game-winner.

"We tried to answer hit-for-hit - they were hitting a lot," Ponikarovsky said. "We tried to do the same thing, mirror them, don't give them any opportunity that they can throw us around. We showed that."

The Panthers' most recent visit to Toronto last Feb. 5 also turned chippy, with several skirmishes breaking out in the third period as the score got out of hand. Richard Zednik had a hat trick in Florida's 8-0 victory, as Tomas Vokoun made 24 saves for the shutout while Toskala was pulled after allowing four goals on 15 shots.

Then-Toronto defenseman Bryan McCabe missed that game with a broken hand, but he'll be on the opposite side Tuesday as he makes his first appearance against his former team.

McCabe spent seven seasons with the Maple Leafs before getting traded to Florida for Mike Van Ryn this summer. He scored 297 points in 523 games for Toronto.

"It's always neat playing against someone you've played with for a while," Leafs defenseman Ian White said. "He was here for many years and did a lot for this organization."

Two weeks ago, McCabe's new defensive unit was cruising, with Vokoun earning back-to-back shutouts to cap a 9-2-3 run for the Panthers (17-16-6). But the team is 1-3-2 since, allowing an average of 4.0 goals over that span.

Florida allowed four goals and was outshot 19-5 in the second period alone on Sunday, but Radek Dvorak scored twice in the third, including the equalizer with 1:38 left in regulation in a 6-5 shootout loss at Montreal.

"You're never happy when you lose but we'll take the point and move forward," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said.

Craig Anderson made 40 saves in his second straight start, but Vokoun will return to the crease Tuesday after going 0-2-0 with a 5.23 GAA in his last three starts. Vokoun has a 3-1-2 record and 1.81 GAA in six career starts against the Leafs.

But the eight-goal drubbing in Toronto was the Panthers' only win in four meetings with the Leafs last season, as they lost once in regulation, once in overtime and once in a shootout.

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.