PANTHERS (21-25-7) at MAPLE LEAFS (28-21-6)
7:00 PM ET; TV: FOX Sports Network; RADIO: 560 AM
Last 10: Florida 5-4-1; Toronto 7-2-1
NORTH OF THE BORDER: Playing north of the border sure hasn't had its effect on the Florida Panthers this season. The south Florida boys have posted a 4-3-1 record on the road against Canadian teams this season and are looking to sweep the season series in Toronto for the second time in three seasons and the third time in the last six. Since 2011, the Panthers have posted a 10-9-3 record against foes north of the border. The team will be looking to earn their fifth season victory on the road in Canada this season, the second most all-time for the Panthers franchise behind the squad's six road wins during the 2011-12 season.
FROM THE BLUELINE: When it comes to producing offense, Panthers defensemen Tom Gilbert and Dmitry Kulikov sure are providing it from the blue line. Gilbert has helped set up the goals as his 22 assists lead the team and the blueliner has 11 assists in the last 14 games, including three straight two assist games before Tuesday's game in Boston. Kulikov on the other hand has been finding the back of the net of late, scoring three of his five goals on the season in the last six games and adding a helper in that same span.
AMERICAN SNIPER IN TORONTO: Phil Kessel is the offensive key to the success for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kessel, who will be representing Team USA at the Winter Olympics next month, leads the team in both goals (27) and assists (28) through 55 games this season. His 27 goals are tied for fifth among all NHL skaters. The Panthers shut down Kessel during the teams’ first meeting of the year on December 17, not allowing him to record a single point while holding him without a shot until the 5:15 mark of the third period. Another solid five-man effort will be needed across the board to earn a two game advantage in the season series against Kessel and the Atlantic Division foe Maple Leafs.
BOUNCING BACK: Despite Tuesday night’s loss in Boston, the Cats have been one of the best road teams in the NHL since early December, posting eight wins in their last 15 games away from home (8-6-1). The Cats have also been stellar as of late coming off a loss, earning a following game victory in four of their last five attempts. The “Comeback Cats” have responded well after a slow start to the season garnering the 7th best record in the Eastern Conference since December 5.
BOYES II MEN: When it comes to scoring goals, whether in-game or a shootout, Brad Boyes is the Panther’s man for the job. With Boyes’ slapshot goal from the circle during Tuesday’s game in Boston, he posted his team leading 14th goal of the season, and has recorded a goal in each of his last two games. Although Boyes is a perennial goal scorer, he is downright deadly in the shootout. Boyes leads all active skaters in career shooutout goals with 37. Through nine attempts this season, he has scored on six of them (.667), good for second most in the NHL.
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