Another one: Jared McCann’s OT goal lifts Panthers past Maple Leafs for 3rd straight win
SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Panthers feel they are finally playing up to their potential.
Jared McCann scored at 3:47 of overtime and the Panthers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on Tuesday night for their third straight victory over a top-notch team.
McCann grabbed a loose puck in the neutral zone, skated in and fired a shot from the slot past goalie Curtis McElhinney.
“I just went down there, buried my head, and shot,” McCann said.
After wins over the Capitals, Penguins and Maple Leafs, the Panthers have a franchise-record nine victories in February. They are a season-high four games over .500.
“If someone told me we’d get six points against Washington, Pittsburgh and Toronto, I would be ecstatic,” coach Bob Boughner said. “That’s what good teams do and we’re starting to become a good team.”
Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and an assist, and Aleksander Barkov also scored for the Panthers. Vincent Trocheck added two assists and Roberto Luongo stopped 37 shots.
“When it comes down to the wire, we find ways to win,” Luongo said.
The veteran goaltender won his third consecutive game.
“Every time we play Louie he seems to be good,” Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. “I thought he was getting old, but he’s (still) good. I thought both goalies were good.”
Zach Hyman and Dominic Moore scored for Toronto, and McElhinney made 28 saves. Star center Auston Matthews sat out again with a shoulder injury.
After winning four straight, the Maple Leafs have lost two in a row, including 4-3 at Tampa Bay on Monday night.
“Obviously, those are two tough games,” Hyman said. “I thought we played well in both games, we just didn’t come up with a win.”
Toronto closed to 2-1 when Moore swept in a loose puck from in front at 2:53 of the second. The Maple Leafs tied it when William Nylander got control of the puck in the neutral zone, skated in and dropped a perfect pass to Hyman, who beat Luongo with 7:26 left in the period.
Barkov’s power-play goal at 11:02 of the first gave Florida a 1-0 lead. Huberdeau passed from behind the net to Barkov in front, and he roofed the puck over McElhinney on the stick side.
Barkov has 16 points in his past 12 games.
Huberdeau stretched the lead to 2-0 at 1:42 of the second. McElhinney came out of the crease to block a shot by Huberdeau, but he got around the goaltender and backhanded the puck into the net.
“He made the first move and I had a chance to go behind him,” Huberdeau said.
NOTES: Trocheck’s assist on Barkov’s goal gave him 20 power-play points, making him the first Panthers player to reach that mark since Brian Campbell (31) and Tomas Fleischmann (22) in 2011-12. … Panthers forward Denis Malgin is expected to miss two weeks with a lower-body injury. Malgin was injured in the third period of Saturday’s 6-5 win over Pittsburgh.
Maple Leafs: Visit the Washington Capitals on Saturday.
Panthers: Host the New Jersey Devils on Thursday.
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