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Scrivens earns another shutout in Leafs? 3-0 win

by Alain Poupart

SUNRISE, Fla. Ben Scrivens and the Toronto Maple Leafs are on a roll right now, but they're not ready to get carried away just yet.

Scrivens stopped 37 shots for his second consecutive shutout and Nazem Kadri and Clarke MacArthur each had a goal and an assist as the Maple Leafs won for the sixth time in seven games, beating the Panthers 3-0 at the BB&T Center Monday night.

"The team is playing well," Scrivens said. "I feel like we're playing a good team game. Guys are blocking shots and getting in lanes, clearing a path for the puck so I can get a good visual on the release and also clearing away second chances. l'm not trying to get too high or get too low after a game where I don't play too well, I just try to stay as even-keeled as possible."

Scrivens, coming up big with starter James Reimer on injured reserve with a knee injury, recorded his first career shutout Saturday night in a 3-0 victory against the Ottawa Senators. He hasn't allowed a goal in 142:21; the last player to beat him was Jordan Staal, who scored in the second period of Thursday's 3-1 Carolina Hurricanes victory.

He did his best work Monday in the first period when Florida outshot the Maple Leafs 14-12 and in the first 5:39 of the second when the Panthers put nine shots on net.

"Benny is giving us a chance and making huge saves for us at opportune times," Kadri said. "We build off that. That can be a momentum shift when a goalie makes a big save. That makes you want to work even harder for him."

Phil Kessel also scored for the Maple Leafs, who improved to 7-2-0 on the road, their best nine-game start away from home since 1940-41.

The victory also snapped Toronto's five-game losing streak in the series dating back to the 2010-11 season. The Panthers swept the Maple Leafs last season, outscoring them 20-9 in the process.

Toronto had last beaten Florida Feb. 1 2011, 4-3 in a shootout at Air Canada Centre.

"We're getting a good structure," MacArthur said. "We don't want to get overly excited. It's really early yet. We want to keep building. Our team is getting better and better. Our goalies have been playing great. It's something where it's a good feeling we're building something here but we don't get too excited."

Jose Theodore made 30 saves for the Panthers, who lost their fifth in a row and were shut out for the third time in five games. Florida did manage to avoid becoming the first team in NHL history to lose in overtime four consecutive games.

The losing streak matches the longest the Panthers endured last season when they captured the first division title in franchise history.

"It's not on anybody else, it's on us," Panthers right wing Peter Mueller said. "We just have to find ways to keep going and digging and play a full 60 minutes. That's what we're looking for."

Kadri scored on the power play at 12:13 of the second period to give Toronto a 2-0 lead. After a battle behind the Florida net, Dion Phaneuf flipped a backhand pass to the front. Kadri one-timed the pass past the glove of Theodore. The goal came on Toronto's fifth shot on the power play.

Less than two minutes later, Kadri's backhand pass left MacArthur all alone on Theodore and his wrist shot from the slot bounced in off the right post.

"I had to yell at him," MacArthur joked about Kadri. "He never would have made that pass to me. It's nice when I can get my feet going and get to skating hard and get open for passes like that. It was nice. Lately, it's been post and out, so it was nice to see one go in."

The two goals were part of a dominating second half of the period for the Maple Leafs, who outshot Florida 12-0 in the final 9:55.

"For about 10 minutes of the second, we took over the hockey game," Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "We started to skate and we were effective through the neutral ice. We started to transition the puck and we scored a couple of goals."

While Toronto's power play produced Monday, Florida continued to struggle with the man advantage.

The Panthers went 0-for-3 against the Maple Leafs, making them 0-for-15 during their losing streak. Panthers coach Kevin Dineen was particularly frustrated with a second-period power play that preceded Kadri's goal when his team failed to so much as get a shot on goal.

"Personally, I think our power play sucked the life out of us," Dineen said. "We didn't get anything generated, yet we didn't respond very well to that. That's an area we have to keep working on and have our special teams give us a boost instead of going 0-fer on the one side and giving up the big goal on the other."

Kessel opened the scoring at 17:04 of the first period off a miscue by Florida defenseman Mike Weaver. The Panthers were controlling the puck in the Toronto zone when Weaver took a pass at the point but lost control of the puck.

James van Riemsdyk grabbed the loose puck and flipped a saucer pass to Kessel to send him on a partial breakaway. Kessel beat Theodore with a blistering wrist shot from the left circle.

That was all Scrivens, who once had three consecutive shutouts while at Cornell University, would need.

It's been pretty heady stuff for a goalie who had appeared in only four games before coming in for an injured Reimer only one week earlier against the Philadelphia Flyers, especially when he was pulled in one of those games after giving up five goals on 25 shots.

"You can go back and look at my interview after I got pulled against the New York Islanders, I imagine it's fairly similar to this," Scrivens said. "Really, it's extremely cliché, but you try not to get too high, you try not to get too low. Things are obviously going well, but as soon as you start puffing your chest ... I'm confident all the time. I think I can stop the puck if I see it, I think I give myself a chance to help the team win games. Sometimes you get shutouts, sometimes pucks go off shin pads and you get pulled. If you're giving yourself a chance, you're giving the team a chance. You try to stay even-keeled."

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