NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, March 19th
(All times eastern)
Toronto Maple Leafs (29-29-13) at Florida Panthers (34-26-10), 7:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - A desperate Florida Panthers club will attempt to break out
of an ill-timed losing streak tonight at the BankAtlantic Center against a
Toronto Maple Leafs team they've had good success against this season.
The Panthers have hurt their cause for a playoff bid by losing their last four
games, including home outings versus fellow Southeast Division members Tampa
Bay and Washington over their two most recent tilts. The skid has dropped
Florida three points behind Montreal and Carolina, the teams presently
occupying the last two postseason seeds in the Eastern Conference, with 12
games to play.
Florida will attempt to get back on track against a Toronto squad it has
beaten three times previously in 2008-09, although the last two matchups were
decided in overtime. However, the Maple Leafs are 3-0-1 in their last four
visits to the BankAtlantic Center.
Toronto has also been playing pretty well as of late, with the Leafs recording
their third win in four games with Tuesday's shootout decision over visiting
Tampa Bay. That 4-3 triumph followed up a wild 8-6 home ousting of Northwest
Division leader Calgary on Saturday.
The Maple Leafs are 8-3-1 over their last 12 games.
John Mitchell recorded the deciding goal in the sixth round of the shootout
and also scored in regulation against the Lightning. Jason Blake added a goal
and an assist for Toronto, which rallied to tie the contest at 3-3 on Jeffrey
Hamilton's tally with 5:31 remaining in regulation.
The Maple Leafs, who still stand 10 points out of a playoff spot in the East,
will be playing the middle test of a three-game road trip this evening.
Toronto has won five of its last six as the visitor to improve its away mark
to 16-16-4 for the season.
Florida owns a 18-10-6 overall home record but has dropped three straight and
five of its last seven at the BankAtlantic Center.
The Panthers are coming off a shutout defeat to Southeast front-runner
Washington on Tuesday, with Capitals goaltender Jose Theodore amassing 19
saves in his team's 3-0 win.
Florida has not lost five consecutive games since an 0-5-1 skid from October
03/19 10:35:39 ET