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Though only a 19-year-old rookie, Luke Schenn showed his toughness in the Toronto Maple Leafs' latest win. His teammates have shown a similar fight lately.
Toronto has a chance to match its longest win streak of the season Tuesday night when it faces the Florida Panthers at Air Canada Centre.
With All-Star defenseman Tomas Kaberle out four weeks with a broken bone in his right hand, Schenn stepped in to inspire the Maple Leafs to a 5-4 victory Saturday over Pittsburgh, leveling NHL scoring leader Evgeni Malkin with a second-period hit and starting a fight with Tyler Kennedy. He also assisted on Matt Stajan's goal that gave Toronto a two-goal lead early in the third period.
"For a young guy like that, that definitely sends a message to the room," Leafs forward Jason Blake said. "He's ready to play every night."
After the Penguins came back to tie the game less than five minutes later, Blake took over to put a 3-10-2 stretch firmly in the past, scoring the go-ahead goal with 9:55 left to give Toronto a second straight win.
The Maple Leafs also rallied in Thursday's 7-4 victory at Colorado, scoring three goals in the final 15:04 after the Avalanche tied the game at 4 earlier in the third period.
"In both those games, we responded to adversity properly," Toronto coach Ron Wilson said. "We didn't hang our heads if the other team scored, and we bounced right back."
The Maple Leafs have needed their 12 goals in the past two games to overcome the continuing struggles of their goaltenders, who have allowed at least three goals in 14 of the last 17 games. Despite a combined 2-1-0 record, Vesa Toskala and Justin Pogge have given up 14 goals in the past three contests.
Blake, who leads the team with 17 goals, has scored in four straight games, and has four assists in that span. Dominic Moore also enters Tuesday on a four-game point streak with two goals and six assists.
While Florida averaged 4.0 goals during a 7-1-3 run - a stretch that included a 4-2 win Jan. 6 at Toronto - its offense was quiet In Saturday's 3-1 road loss to the New York Islanders.
Gregory Campbell's goal with 1:27 left was all that kept the Panthers from being shut out by the NHL's worst team.
Despite scoring just 12 times in the past five games, Florida coach Peter DeBoer isn't overly concerned as his team has pushed into playoff contention.
"We've picked up points in 10 of our last 12 games," DeBoer said. "You're going to have nights like this, and we have to bounce back."
David Booth, who has a team-leading 20 goals and 33 points, has eight goals and 10 assists in the last 14 games. The Panthers are also still among the NHL's best in closing out wins with a 18-1-1 record when leading after two periods.
Florida has also taken consecutive wins and three of the past four meetings at Air Canada Centre. Toronto, however, has gone 10-4-0 against the Panthers dating back to March 9, 2004.
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