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NOT ENOUGH IN T.O.: Leafs Help Playoff Hopes with 3-2 Win over Panthers ... Cats Go 2-3 on Roadie, Headed Home

MAPLE LEAFS 3, PANTHERS 2

TWITTER: @GeorgeRichards

TORONTO -- The Maple Leafs are desperate to make the playoffs this spring, desperate to end a postseason drought that is now longest in the game.

On Tuesday, Joffrey Lupul scored a pair of goals within the first few minutes of the third period as the Leafs held off a fast finish by the Panthers 3-2 to help their playoff hopes.

Since the Panthers reached the playoffs last season, the Leafs are the NHL's only team to not make the postseason since a lockout wiped out the 2004-05 season. The Leafs last playoff appearance was in 2004 -- but they could change that in the coming weeks.

For Florida, Tuesday's loss was its third straight after the Panthers started this season-long road trip with two wins. The Panthers opened the trip with wins in Carolina and New York; they closed it with losses to the Devils, Islanders and Leafs.

"We played hard, it was a good game,'' said Shawn Matthias, who tied last year's career-high 10 goals by scoring early in the third. "There's lots of positives from this. It was a hard-fought game. .-.-. We have to go in front of the net to score goals. That's where the puck was. Fortunately we couldn't get one.''

The Panthers have eight of their nine wins when scoring first, only that formula didn't work out Tuesday.

Florida took a 1-0 lead into the second period after Tomas Fleischmann slid a wrist shot between the skates of Toronto goalie Ben Scrivens 6:39 into the game

Toronto, which lost in a shootout at Boston on Monday night, bounced back in the second and scored the equalizer midway through the second from Dion Phanuef.

Prior to that, Panthers goalie Jacob Markstrom had stopped all 11 shots he faced. Markstrom came into the game as only the sixth goalie since 2007 to allow two goals or fewer while making 33-plus saves in three straight starts.

Markstrom was the second Florida goalie on that list as Craig Anderson did it with the Panthers in 2008. Markstrom ended up giving up three goals on 31 shots to the Leafs.

"It was a fast game on both sides, a lot of shots,'' Markstrom said. "These are the kind of games we want to come out on top. We just couldn't do it [Tuesday].''

The third period started off fast and furious as Florida's Filip Kuba was called for tripping at the end of the second. Lupul cashed in 22 seconds into the third by charging in on Markstrom and putting a Tyler Bozak feed past him.

Just 23 seconds later, Matthias tied the score as his shot deflected off Toronto's Mike Kostka and past Scrivens.

"I tried to throw it to my backhand and missed,'' Matthias said. "I got a lucky bounce right there.''

Toronto soon retook the lead with Lupul scoring a few minutes later. Florida had plenty of opportity in the second half of the third period, must notably great chances from Greg Rallo, Scottie Upshall, Fleischmann and Tomas Kopecky.

Scrivens made 40 saves in the win.

"We looked like a different team in different sections of the game,'' coach Kevin Dineen said. "You play 25, 30 solid minutes and then have a few issues that we have to take care of. We had a fairly strong finish but not enough to get the job done.''

NEWS, NOTES

The Panthers say they have no further updates on the status of injured wingers Jack Skille and Eric Selleck -- both of whom suffered concussions and are going through the NHL's protocol. Skille is thought to have suffered his concussion before leaving Saturday's game in New Jersey.

Dineen won't even say what is wrong with Skille other than he has an 'upper body' injury although he said Monday it wasn't a shoulder issue. Dineen did say Skille was sent back to South Florida to be evaluated.

-- With Erik Gudbranson back after missing two games with the flu, the Panthers now have seven defensemen. T.J. Brennen, acquired in a deal with Buffalo on March 15, was Florida's healthy scratch on Tuesday.

Comments

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I understand that KD wants to win and DT want to showcase players but can someone tell me why JT Brennen was a healthy scratch and that old fart Kuba and liabality Campbell were playing?

That's ok, 1 game closer to that (hopefully!) #1 pick...

You don't know anything about hockey if you call Soup a liability. He is one of the best defensemen in the league and we are extremely lucky to have him.
Kuba has underperformed but as things has progressed it is hard for anyone to achieve to expectations.
Stop picking on specific players and look at the whole picture.
If you watched the game you can see the potential on this team showing. If you insert all the leadership and good hockey players on the injured list back on this team, you have a very good hockey team.

I am truly impressed with how Mathias has stepped up in this situation and taken a leadership roll on the ice. He is now finally showing the talent we knew he had. As he builds confidence and matures he will be something out off the ordinary with his size, skill and speed.

I am worried about Huberdeau as he is now playing against the best defensive pairings every night. Huby and his line is now considered the biggest threat by the opposition because of all the injuries. I am not sure he is ready for that and it could hurt his development. His production is down and he is being pushed out to the parameter. Lets hope he can deal with this in the right way and get his confidence back.

Hey Putz, I mean Peps do you even know what +/- means?
Campbell has the worse in the league. He has 1 even strength goal. He is strictly a power play specialist. He is overpaid and overrated. And to your comment that he's one of the best defensemen in the league, you're a idiot. I'd bet a cold beer you've never even been on a pair of skates in your life.

Easy Hank! Statistics are like a bikini on a woman. You can see a lot but never what you really would like to see.

The liability on defense is KUBA the TUBA and Alzheimers Kulikov.Campbell is playing to many minutes but he is a very good defenseman.Brennan looks ok to me but I dont know the whole story yet.Markstrom is IMPROVING and thank god for that.Tallon will take Jones as he loves USA hockey players.I posted many times last year about how really good Garrison was all around and we see that now.Hope we offer Matthias a good contract and re sign Weiss to at least 2 yrs because this team is a minimum of 2 years away.The offensive talent of Bergenheim,Samuellson,and Wolski are missed plus all these injuries and Clemmers decline have doomed us.Giving all this money to Jovonowski and not tendering a competitive offer to maturing players is the M.O. of this organization.Hockey games are NOT won on advertising campaigns like Jovocop and red rising.Ownership needs to realize this and reel in the eveready bunny promoter Yormark.WINNING teams not hollow giveaways and stupid fan meetings will bring the fans back and until ownership realizes this we are doomed.Good players want out of here as soon as their contract expires because we are perceived as a joke team.I hope Matthias wants to stay here but something tells me he wants out.Mueller should also be given at least a 2-3 yr contract.Tallon is really trying here so lets try to be positive and give him another 2 yrs.I intend to unless they dont sign Weiss,Mueller,and Matthias.Buy Jovo out and divert the savings elsewhere.Interesting to see what they do with Bergenheim.

Hank, I don't even know where to start to address a stupid post like that. Obviously you don't respect any other opinions but your own.
We can discuss Campbell for a long time but if you know hockey you should know he is a good player. I am sure you where a big fan of his last year, right? You could bring in Lidstrom (before he retired) and he would also have had poor +/- statistic on this team this year (I am not comparing them as players).

Ohh and Hank, you would loose that bet big time. Don't act like an uneducated anonymous tough guy on a blog. It is sad and takes the fun out of discussing hockey.

I wouldn't get to excited about the first draft pick, Tallon will have him down in the minors for development. Tallon is wearing the emperor 's clothes. There nothing there.

Peps, are you kidding me. Lidstrom? Answer me this one question. Was Lidstrom better than Strachan? The answer obviously is yes and he's only -4 with a few less games played than Campbell. He sucks. What's last year got to do with this year? He was -9 last year(82 games). He's on pase to a -45 if the season was a 82 game schedule

Again litespeed is 100% correct sir! First of all Campbell is playing too many minutes. He's an all star no doubt, but the minutes, the hits, the stress of being left in this position when they wouldn't sign Garrison, is the root cause. Second, the ownership allowing the huckster, Yormacky, to run ruff shod on us, real hockey fans who love the game, is regrettable. Until ownership throws in the towel and makes the agenda 100% about hockey and not promotion, conning and noise, we'll not see, especially we'll be moving into the new division, a team competitive for the playoffs, ever again! The MO of signing aging players, injured players and letting go of players who command real money to stay with the team, is disgusting. We are a joke in the NHL, command no respect from the league or the officials. Until we see the commitment to hockey over promotion, we won't see a consistent winning hockey culture down here. We're keeping the reputation of South Florida as a conning criminal area intact. Where's baldy? We need him back!

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