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Panthers-Maple Leafs Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:47 AM

Associated Press

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Florida Panthers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

The Florida Panthers have shown over the last two games that they can come from behind and win.

It remains to be seen how the club will finish as the frontrunner in the Southeast Division.

Florida looks to match a season high by winning a fourth consecutive road game Tuesday night when the slumping Toronto Maple Leafs try to get back on track with the trade deadline finally passed.

After rallying from two down on Saturday and regaining the division lead with a 3-2 shootout victory at Carolina, the Panthers (29-20-12) fought back from two down in the opening 6:55 for a 4-2 victory over Montreal on Sunday.

"We proved last night that we can come back and win it," Scott Clemmensen said after making 18 saves. "It is fresh in our minds and we were able to put it together again tonight. It was a big two points."

The Panthers, whose last postseason appearance came in 2000, are third in the East with 70 points, but their division lead over Winnipeg and Washington is two and three points, respectively.

Despite having so much on the line over the final 21 games, Florida didn't make any moves Monday prior to the trade deadline.

The Panthers acquired Jerred Smithson from Nashville on Friday and Wojtek Wolski - acquired from the New York Rangers on Saturday - netted the equalizer late in regulation that night.

"We made our moves early," general manager Dale Tallon told the Panthers' official website Monday. "... We improved our team a few days ago and we're going to get healthier as we move on the next couple of weeks."

The confidence in Toronto is not as high as the club has dropped four straight and eight of nine to fall to 10th in the East, three back of the eighth-place Jets.

The Maple Leafs (29-26-7) made two minor deals on Monday - acquiring defenseman Mark Fraser from Anaheim and forward Carter Ashton from Tampa Bay - but the heat is now on coach Ron Wilson and his players to earn the franchise's first postseason berth since 2004.

"We are sticking with the plan," general manager Brian Burke said Monday. "In my mind there is nothing we could have done today that made us better now. It was all things that will make us better moving down the road. We've got to see if this group is good enough to get in and keep the assets we have."

Before hitting the road for nine of 12, the Maple Leafs will try to avoid the team's first five-game home losing streak since an 0-4-2 skid to begin 2009-10.

Florida, a 5-1 winner Nov. 8 in its lone visit to Air Canada Centre this season, has three consecutive road victories following a 1-6-4 stretch away from home.

The Panthers won four consecutive road games from Oct. 29-Nov. 15.

Florida could match that mark if the Maple Leafs can't shore up their defense. Toronto has surrendered 35 goals during its 1-7-1 skid, with neither Jonas Gustavsson nor James Reimer performing well in net during this stretch.

"It's not Maple Leaf hockey," defenseman John-Michael Liles said. "We have to take it upon ourselves in this room. We've got the team to do it here, we've done it for a long time this season. It's a matter of getting back to how we're successful."

Toronto's last five-game skid was an 0-6-2 stretch from Oct. 28-Nov. 13, 2010.

Florida has lost just three times in regulation in its last 12 visits to Toronto.

2011-2012 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 13 '12 TOR 2 at FLA 5 T. Kopecky
Feb 28 '12 FLA 5 at TOR 3 J. Garrison
Dec 27 '11 TOR 3 at FLA 5 K. Versteeg
Nov 08 '11 FLA 5 at TOR 1 M. Sturm
K. Versteeg59222749+23675
T. Fleischmann62202646-42253
S. Weiss60163046+85045
B. Campbell6243943-8610
J. Garrison57141125+82093
D. Kulikov4642024-52821
S. Matthias61101323+12511
T. Kopecky6061622-123011
M. Samuelsson3581220+41440
S. Bergenheim4214519+04041
M. Goc3761016+3621
M. Weaver6201414+31000
M. Santorelli539211-61821
M. Bradley45358-33100
J. Skille41358-92601
E. Jovanovski47268-92110
E. Gudbranson53246-165600
M. Repik17235-3610
J. Smithson56145-53000
W. Wolski12145+0200
K. Ellerby33044-3800
M. Sturm34213-122501
E. Dadonov15213-4200
K. Barch42123-19800
S. Upshall17123-22501
T. Strachan12123+2500
T. Kennedy27112-11401
B. Thomas7101+0000
M. Cullen6011+2200
D. Booth6011-6200
J. Madden16000-4400
R. Carter7000-1600
B. Kearns5000+01000
C. Robak3000+1000
N. Yonkman1000+0000
J. Matsumoto1000+0000
G. Rallo1000+0000
J. Theodore3817-11-68610672.40.919
S. Clemmensen2311-5-5566092.71.908
J. Markstrom72-4-1172222.66.923
B. Foster10-0-0010.001.000
P. Kessel63323567+22075
J. Lupul63244064+44673
M. Grabovski57182341+61841
D. Phaneuf6392837-67060
T. Bozak54132336+22041
C. MacArthur56181533+22834
T. Connolly51101828-32423
N. Kulemin6372027+3611
J. Liles4741822-71420
J. Gardiner5641519+41810
C. Franson4741519-42020
L. Schenn6121719+64100
J. Crabb498917+02403
C. Gunnarsson5921416+11800
M. Lombardi457714-13802
M. Frattin395510+11601
D. Steckel60718-8810
N. Kadri19426+3811
M. Komisarek30134-33000
J. Colborne9134+1200
M. Brown41123-55500
D. Boyce17112-31601
C. Armstrong17112-6400
K. Aulie17022-21600
C. Orr5101+1500
P. Dupuis30000-21600
J. Rosehill16000-22100
J. Gustavsson3316-12-2879152.89.905
J. Reimer2811-11-4807953.07.899
B. Scrivens82-4-1212192.96.904