The Toronto Maple Leafs saw their season-high six-game winning streak come to a halt after stumbling against the most unlikely of foes. The Maple Leafs look to regain their footing on Wednesday when they visit the Florida Panthers, who have dropped eight of their last 11 contests.
James van Riemsdyk scored his fifth goal in as many games when he converted on the power play just 33 seconds into the second period on Monday, but Toronto saw its third-ranked offense held in check in a 4-1 setback to league-worst Arizona. The 28-year-old’s goal with the man advantage was just the team’s fifth in the last 13 games, however. Toronto might be able to gain some steam on the power play against Florida, which surrendered two goals while short-handed in its 3-2 loss to Anaheim on Sunday. Vincent Trocheck scored his team-leading ninth goal and added an assist for the Panthers, who limped to a 1-3-1 mark versus the Maple Leafs last season.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Sportsnet Ontario (Toronto), FSN Florida
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (14-8-0): Mitch Marner’s play-making ability has been on display with seven points (one goal, six assists) in his last five games, but that doesn’t mean that coach Mike Babcock wants to pair him with fellow 20-year-old Auston Matthews. “That’s great that everyone wants that (but) we’re just trying to win every night,” Babcock told TSN. “It’s the responsibility of both guys to drive a line. That’s their job here.” As for Matthews, the reigning Calder Trophy recipient admitted that he was a bit sluggish on Monday as he works out the kinks on the heels of missing four games with an upper-body injury.
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (7-11-2): Florida fell on the wrong end of the scoreboard in its last outing despite unleashing a season-high 52 shots on goal. “We’re running into hot goalies,” said defenseman Keith Yandle, who scored and set up a goal. “We’re getting opportunities. It comes down to a couple of bounces. I thought our effort was great and we played hard, but it’s never fun losing.” Aleksander Barkov notched a pair of assists versus the Ducks for his third multi-point performance in his last six games overall. The 22-year-old Finn scored a goal and set up two others over his last two encounters versus Toronto last season.
1. Toronto C Nazem Kadri has collected four goals and as many assists during his career high-tying seven-game point streak.
2. Panthers G Roberto Luongo sports a brilliant 20-9-1 mark with two shutouts and a .926 save percentage in 34 career appearances versus the Maple Leafs.
3. Toronto G Frederik Andersen, who earned the NHL Second Star of Week honors on Monday, has a .966 save percentage in his past five games.
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 5, Panthers 1