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Frederik Andersen won't start Tuesday for Maple Leafs

Goalie has upper-body injury; Curtis McElhinney to play for Toronto vs. Panthers

by Dave McCarthy / Correspondent

TORONTO -- Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen will not start against the Florida Panthers at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; TSN4, FS-F, NHL.TV) because of an upper-body injury.

Andersen practiced Monday but coach Mike Babcock said goaltender Curtis McElhinney will start.

The Maple Leafs said Andersen is day to day. He was removed after the first period of a 5-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday.

It's unclear if Andersen will be able to back up McElhinney on Tuesday. The Maple Leafs recalled Garret Sparks from Toronto of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis Monday.

"We don't know. It's tough to predict," Andersen said. "We're taking it slow. Felt pretty good today but I'm taking it one day at a time."

Babcock said he doesn't think Andersen will be out long-term. The Maple Leafs have eight regular-season games remaining; after Tuesday, they play at the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

Video: TOR@BUF: Andersen slides across to deny Kane's tip-in

"It doesn't appear to be long [with Andersen]. Obviously that's great," he said. "The way I look at injuries all the time, it's the same. It's an opportunity for McElhinney. He gets to get prepared and play and we've got to play real well and get ourselves a win. He's just a good pro, he's done a good job for us and we like him. Goaltending is so important for the confidence of the team. We got a win the other night against Jersey. It wasn't his best start but we need him to find a way to play like he's capable of. That's all we need."

The Maple Leafs are one point ahead of the Boston Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division with a game in hand, and three in front of the New York Islanders for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference. The Maple Leafs will play the Panthers, who are seven points out of the second wild card, for the first time since a 7-2 loss at BB&T Center on March 14.

Neither Andersen nor Babcock would confirm the exact nature of the injury. When asked if it was concussion-related, Andersen said, "No, I don't want to go too much into that stuff. I just want to make sure I get back in the net as quick as possible."

In his first season with Toronto, Andersen is 30-15-14 with a 2.68 goals-against average, .918 save percentage and four shutouts in 61 games. He said he got bumped early in the game Saturday and "didn't feel right the rest of the period."

Andersen skated with goaltending coach Steve Briere for about 25 minutes prior to practice Monday. He then joined teammates and went through regular drills for about 20 minutes before departing. Andersen said leaving partway through practice was the plan.

McElhinney allowed three goals on 22 shots in two periods of relief. His most recent start was against the New Jersey Devils on March 23 when he made 30 saves in a 4-2 win. In 10 games with the Maple Leafs, he's 4-5-0 with a 2.76 GAA goals-against average and .919 save percentage.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for myself," McElhinney said. "As far as the team goes, it's another great opportunity to continue to add points to the board right now. Obviously we'll be seeking a little bit of redemption playing Florida again. As far as being a veteran in the League, it's nice and I have that added experience. But for me, it's just about going out there tomorrow, having some fun. It's obviously a very important game for us and for them as well. Going out there and getting off to a good start will be the most important thing."

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