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Florida
Panthers
38-35-9
Toronto
Maple Leafs
36-35-11

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Panthers-Maple Leafs Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:48 AM

Associated Press

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Panthers-Maple Leafs Preview
Florida Panthers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Thanks to new starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun, the Florida Panthers are quickly making up for a slow start to the season.

Looking for their fourth win in a row after a season-opening three-game skid, the Panthers meet the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night in the second of a three-game road swing.

On Tuesday, Florida (3-3-0) got a goal from Nathan Horton with 10.2 seconds to play and Jozef Stumpel scored the lone shootout tally en route to a 2-1 win over Montreal.

"It's nice to get two points when you didn't play very good," said Horton, who gave credit for the win to Vokoun, who was acquired in the offseason from Nashville.

Vokoun allowed the Canadiens' lone goal less than three minutes into the contest, but finished with 36 saves. He has won all three games during Florida's run, posting a 1.63 goals-against average over that span.

"It's a team sport and sometimes you help your team, and sometimes your team helps you," said Vokoun, who is 2-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA in his career against Toronto.

Horton, who set career highs with 31 goals and 31 assists last season, appears intent on topping those numbers. After being limited to one goal in Florida's skid to start the season, he's registered goals in three straight games and added an assist.

Captain Olli Jokinen played in his 300th consecutive game on Tuesday to tie Robert Svehla's franchise record, and is on the verge of eclipsing a pair of scoring milestones for Florida. Now in his seventh season with the Panthers, Jokinen needs two goals and just one point to pass Scott Mellanby and become the franchise's all-time leader in both categories.

An original member of the Panthers, Mellanby had 157 goals and 354 points in eight seasons from 1993-2001. Jokinen has a goal and three assists in his last three visits to Air Canada Centre.

In 2006-07, Florida won a season-high four in a row from Feb. 24-March 3.

The Maple Leafs (2-3-2), meanwhile, will try to avoid their first three-game slide this season. On Monday, Toronto gave up four third-period goals and the game winner with 3.7 seconds left in overtime of a 5-4 defeat to Northeast Division-rival Buffalo.

Toronto also squandered a two-goal lead in its 6-4 loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday, and Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice said his team's defensive play is shaky.

"It doesn't feel too good right now," he said. "We don't have a lot of confidence in our defensive game right now, and it showed."

A big reason for the Maple Leafs' struggles lies in the play of goaltenders Andrew Raycroft and Vesa Toskala, who have combined to give up an Eastern Conference-high 29 goals. Raycroft has been beaten for nine goals in his two losses this season - both in overtime - while Toskala has surrendered 12 goals in losing his last two starts.

Toskala, though, likely will be in net for this game. While with San Jose last season, he stopped 24 shots in a 2-1 victory over the Panthers. Raycroft is 4-5-2 with a 2.49 GAA in 11 career starts against Florida.

Toronto tops the NHL with 26 goals scored, led by Nik Antropov's five. The center has a goal and an assist in each of his last three games.

2007-2008 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Feb 27 '08 TOR 4 at FLA 3 - SO T. Kaberle
Feb 05 '08 FLA 8 at TOR 0 R. Zednik
Dec 22 '07 TOR 2 at FLA 1 - OT P. Kubina
Oct 18 '07 FLA 2 at TOR 3 N. Antropov