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Desperate Leafs visit struggling Panthers

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

John Kreiser - Columnist

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Desperate Leafs visit struggling Panthers
Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Florida Panthers
MAPLE LEAFS (31-30-10) at PANTHERS (28-33-9)

TV -- SNET-Ontario (HD); FS-Florida (HD

Last 10 -- Toronto 4-3-3; Florida 3-5-2

Season series -- It's the fourth and final meeting this season, with the home team winning each of the first three. The Leafs haven't been to South Florida since losing 4-1 on Nov. 10.

Big story -- The Leafs keep nudging a little closer toward the top eight in the Eastern Conference playoff race. They were outshot 37-19 on Wednesday at Carolina, but got big nights from captain Dion Phaneuf and rookie goaltender James Reimer to beat the Hurricanes 3-1 and move within four points of eighth-place Buffalo. They visit a Florida team that's all but out of the race after a 3-2 home loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday.

Team Scope:

Maple Leafs -- Before Wednesday's game, there was conjecture that coach Ron Wilson might sit Reimer and start veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere against the Hurricanes. Wilson lifted Reimer in Monday night's 6-2 loss to Tampa Bay, but said he had no intention of sitting a supposedly tired Reimer against the 'Canes -- and was rewarded with a 36-save performance and a much-needed two points.

"If I don't play Reimer, I'm an idiot, so let's leave that rest," Wilson said. "Reims isn't tired -- he's going to have some nights where he's not as good as he is on other nights. That's like everyone in this League."

Panthers -- Florida is all but assured of an NHL-record 10th consecutive season without a trip to the playoffs. The squad that lost to the Flyers includes 10 players who've been called up from the AHL this season. Florida led 2-1 after one period, but allowed two second-period goals and couldn't recover.

"You're not going to play mistake-free," Panthers coach Peter DeBoer said. "No one likes that we're not winning but you can't deny they're giving an effort out there. That's all a coach can ask."

Who's hot -- Phaneuf had 2 goals and an assist in the win at Carolina and has 3 goals and 5 points in a four-game scoring streak. … Florida's Stephen Weiss scored Tuesday and has 3 goals and 6 points in eight games this month. Tomas Vokoun has allowed just one goal on 72 shots in winning his last two games against Toronto.

Injury report -- The Maple Leafs played without Colby Armstrong after he broke a foot blocking a shot Monday. Defenseman Mike Komisarek left Wednesday's game with a lower-body injury and didn't return. Forward Colton Orr (head) is still out and may not be back before the end of the season. … Florida's injury list includes Scott Timmins (concussion), Alexander Sulzer (upper body), Rostislav Klesla (leg) and Jack Skille and Shawn Mattias (ankle). Former first-rounder Jacob Markstrom had successful knee surgery on Wednesday and is expected back for training camp.

Stat pack -- The Leafs are 5-0-2 in their last seven on the road -- and play seven of their last 11 away from Air Canada Centre. … Florida has outscored Toronto 6-1 in winning the last two meetings at the BankAtlantic Center.

Puck drop -- Reimer said the benching in the loss to Tampa Bay served as inspiration for his performance at Carolina.

"To be honest, I had a little bit of extra motivation today because I had heard through the grapevine that Tampa Bay had said that something to the effect that I was just a typical Francois Allaire goalie and they knew how to beat me," Reimer said. ``I'm not going to lie -- that kind of rubbed me the wrong way and ticked me off.

2010-2011 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 17 '11 TOR 0 at FLA 4 S. Samsonov
Feb 01 '11 FLA 3 at TOR 4 - SO C. Armstrong
Nov 10 '10 TOR 1 at FLA 4 S. Reinprecht
Oct 26 '10 FLA 1 at TOR 3 C. Orr
P. Kessel72282553-2120105
M. Grabovski71272653+1254103
C. MacArthur72203353-53763
N. Kulemin72262450+72245
T. Kaberle5833538-21601
K. Versteeg53142135-132950
T. Bozak72121426-281253
D. Phaneuf5671926-37731
C. Armstrong5081523-13800
J. Lupul4491322-132931
T. Brent7181119-32501
L. Schenn7231417-73200
C. Gunnarsson5831013-41201
F. Beauchemin5421012-41600
D. Boyce374711+62401
J. Crabb382810-31801
M. Komisarek671910-97400
M. Brown40257+26010
N. Kadri19066-4600
F. Sjostrom61235-71200
J. Mitchell23213-71211
B. Lebda38123-171400
J. Rosehill20123-46200
C. Orr46202-112801
K. Aulie30101-42600
M. Zigomanis8011+0400
L. Caputi7000-2400
C. Hanson6000+0400
M. Mueller3000+0200
M. Lashoff2000-1000
K. Holzer2000-1200
J. Reimer2714-7-4658222.61.921
J. Giguere3211-11-4787662.90.898
J. Gustavsson236-13-2686203.29.890
S. Weiss70202848-64531
D. Booth71211637-202063
M. Santorelli71181937-111851
N. Bergfors61122234-6831
S. Samsonov67122133+11241
D. Wideman6192433-263381
M. Reasoner71141529+82204
M. Frolik5282129+21611
D. Kulikov6161824+53611
C. Higgins48111223+51000
C. Stillman4471623+32011
B. McCabe4851722+32820
R. Dvorak5371421+22003
J. Skille5671118-52711
R. Olesz4461117-1811
S. Matthias4761016+11600
J. Garrison6241216+02603
S. Bernier595914-152130
B. Allen534812-56301
M. Weaver7121012+32801
K. Ellerby4321012-61800
E. Dadonov254711+21410
S. Reinprecht294610-2611
R. Carter53268-35100
M. Repik20167-41400
B. Thomas22336+0401
D. Hordichuk56134-27100
A. Sulzer36134-81400
C. Wilson8202+3200
S. Timmins19101-8800
J. Callahan16000-2800
K. McArdle11000-31600
P. Rissmiller3000-1000
T. Kennedy3000-1000
H. Jessiman2000-1500
M. Duco2000-11000
T. Vokoun5221-25-512716052.60.921
S. Clemmensen248-7-4546632.45.919
J. Markstrom10-1-02143.00.857