So, he wasn't surprised to see so many inside BankAtlantic Center wearing the blue-and-white of the Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
“You find a way to get at least one more than they do,'' Jovanovski said before the game, “and you'll hear our fans cheering. Our job is to quiet the Toronto fans.''
That the Panthers did.
Florida scored on three straight shots during a wild stretch of the second period and held on for a much-needed 5-3 win over the 'visiting' Maple Leafs in front of a season-high 20,406.
The Panthers, with seven forwards out of the lineup for a second straight game, ended a three game skid with the victory.
“This was a big win for us,'' Michal Repik said.
How much different was the Panthers roster on Tuesday as compared to their 5-1 win in Toronto on Nov. 8?
On Nov. 5, Florida's AHL affiliate beat the Leafs' Toronto Marlies team 6-1. Five forwards who were in Florida's lineup on Tuesday were playing for the Rampage at that time. Scott Clemmensen, Florida's backup goalie, got the win for the Rampage in his only AHL start of the season.
Tuesday, those former – and probably for some, soon-to-be – San Antonio players came up big.
Repik had a game-high six shots and screened goalie James Reimer for Florida's first and third goals. Bill Thomas, recently signed to an NHL contract, gave Florida a 2-1 lead as he slipped the puck past Reimer 19 seconds after the Leafs tied things 1-1.
All five of the San Antonio Panthers had at least a point on Tuesday.
“Coach said it was a team effort and every line contributed. That's a good feeling,'' said Mark Cullen, called up on Tuesday. “We need to do more than just fill in. It's nice to contribute on the scoresheet.''
Florida took a 1-0 lead on a long shot from rookie Erik Gudbranson from 55 feet out but then didn't do much on offense. The Panthers were held to four shots in the opening period – and went 15:40 between the third and the fourth.
The Leafs tied the score at 1 early in the second, but Florida came storming back. Thomas took off and snared a sweet pass from Evgenii Dadonov and walked in on Reimer, the puck rolling off his stick but through.
Jason Garrison then threw up a shot on a power play that was originally credited to Repik; Garrison's goal was his 11th – most of any defenseman in the league. Florida then made it 4-1 as Kris Versteeg knocked a loose puck through at 6:55 of the second.
Versteeg's goal came against Jonas Gustavsson as Toronto coach Ron Wilson pulled Reimer after he surrendered three goals on eight shots.
Toronto didn't go quietly after going down 4-1 as Dion Phaneuf scored midway through the second and Mikhail Grabovski got his second of the night midway through the third after deflecting a Clarke MacArthur shot with his skate past Jose Theodore to make it 4-3.
Tomas Fleischmann all but ended it for the Panthers when he scored with 8:16 remaining.
AROUND THE ICE
The Panthers could get some help soon as the Christmas roster freeze is lifted on Wednesday. Florida is said to have interest in free agent center John Madden – a three-time Stanley Cup champion with New Jersey (two) and Chicago.
“We're talking to everyone and we're listening to everyone,'' general manager Dale Tallon said during Tuesday's game. “We really need some bodies. We're trying to get better and will do so anyway we can.''
() Center Stephen Weiss missed his second straight game with what is thought to be sore ribs although he's expected to return Friday against the Rangers.
Marcel Goc (concussion) has been out since November and could also be back soon. Mikael Samuelsson (tailbone) is also close to returning although Marco Sturm (concussion) is not.