Maple Leafs-Panthers Preview
GAME: Toronto Maple Leafs (34-17-9-3) at Florida Panthers (22-25-13-3).
TIME: Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. EST.
The Florida Panthers and Toronto Maple Leafs are playing their best hockey
at the right time.
The Panthers will look to tie their longest unbeaten streak in more than
four years, while the Maple Leafs will try to extend their road unbeaten run to
eight games when they teams meet in Florida.
Florida extended its unbeaten run to four (2-0-2) and handed Boston its
first regulation loss in 13 games with Monday's 2-0 victory at FleetCenter. The
Panthers haven't gone unbeaten in five straight since a five-game winning
streak from Jan. 8-17, 2000.
Roberto Luongo made 38 saves for his fifth shutout of the season, and Darcy
Hordichuk and Andreas Lilja scored as Florida improved to 4-2-2 under new coach
John Torchetti and moved into 10th place in the Eastern Conference.
Luongo has lost just twice in his last eight starts, posting a 1.23
goals-against average over that span.
"He's like our sixth defenseman, and you know you can take extra chances,"
Hordichuk said of Luongo. "That's why he's been an All-Star. If guys don't
think he's the real deal, he's proven them wrong."
Toronto fell 2-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday for its third loss in
its last four home games.
The Maple Leafs, however, are riding a 6-0-1 surge away from the Air Canada
Centre. Toronto went unbeaten in a franchise-record nine straight road games
during the 1947-48 season.
Leafs backup goalie Mikael Tellqvist made his third straight start Monday in
place of injured Ed Belfour. Tellqvist lost for the first time this season, but
continues to make a strong case to remain the backup when Belfour returns.
Belfour has missed nine of the last 10 games because of a back injury.
Regular backup Trevor Kidd is 1-3-1 while allowing 22 goals in his last five
"We can't blame it on him. He had an excellent game," Toronto captain Mats
Sundin said after Tellqvist made 27 saves on Monday. "He gave us a chance, and
that's all you can ask. We have to get better."
STANDINGS (through Feb. 23): Maple Leafs - 80 points, 2nd place, 1 PB,
Northeast Division. Panthers - 60 points, 2nd place, 16 PB, Southeast Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Maple Leafs - Sundin and Gary Roberts, 22 goals; Sundin, 37
assists and 59 points; Tie Domi, 161 PIM. Panthers - Olli Jokinen, 18 goals;
Valeri Bure, 21 assists and 38 points; Hordichuk, 119 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 23): Maple Leafs - Power play: 19.3 percent (57
for 296), 6th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (258 for 305), 13th.
Panthers - Power play: 15.9 percent (36 for 226), 16th. Penalty killing: 85.6
percent (238 for 278), 2nd.
GOALTENDERS: Maple Leafs - Tellqvist (5-1-2, 2.61 GAA); Kidd (5-4-2, 1 SO,
3.15). Panthers - Luongo (19-25-12, 5, 2.28); Steve Shields (3-3-1, 3.38).
SEASON SERIES: Maple Leafs, 1-0-1.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 29; 4-4. At Sunrise, Fla., Owen Nolan's first score of
the third period on a tip off Bryan McCabe's wrist shot brought the Leafs
within one goal, and he tied it with 2:17 left in regulation.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Maple Leafs - 18-7-7-1 on the road; Panthers - 12-9-6-2