Maple Leafs 3, Panthers 2
Joffrey Lupul and Toronto Maple Leafs skated off a full two
points in the standings after letting one slip away a night earlier
in Boston. It wasn’t easy against the lowly Florida Panthers.
Lupul scored twice in the third period, and Ben Scrivens made 40
saves in the Maple Leafs’ 3-2 victory Tuesday night. Toronto
rebounded for a shootout loss in Boston on Monday night.
Lupul scored on a power play 22 seconds into the third to put
Toronto ahead 2-1. Florida tied it 23 seconds later when Shawn
Matthias banked in the puck off Leafs defenseman Mike Kostka, and
Lupul brought the Air Canada Centre crowd to its feet again at 3:12
with his second of the game.
”I’ll give them credit. They came out and played real hard,”
Lupul said. ”It’s definitely not the Boston Bruins over there as
far as names and experience go, but they came out and played hard.
They were forechecking hard the whole game and even the last couple
of minutes they battled hard.”
Lupul has six goals in four games since returning from a broken
forearm. He also scored Monday night in Boston, giving him three
goals in two games since returning from a two-game suspension.
”Definitely, when you’ve scored in a couple of games in a row
your confidence starts to go up,” Lupul said. ”We just have to
enjoy this while it goes. I’m not expecting it to last forever, so
I just have to keep doing other things on the ice right and
continue to be a factor in the game.”
After a dismal start, Leafs coach Randy Carlyle mixed up his
lines, taking Lupul from his usual spot with Nazem Kadri and
Nikolai Kulemin and putting him with Tyler Bozak and Phil
”I was seeing nothing so it made it easy,” Carlyle said. ”We
didn’t have a lot going, we were a step-and-a-half behind and just
weren’t skating. They were much more eager than we were and they
won more puck battles and executed to a higher level so we had to
do something. We couldn’t continue to go on that way.”
Carlyle praised Lupul.
”He just plays the game at a higher level and works at a higher
level than a lot of people,” Carlyle said. ”That’s a great
example for our younger players.”
Carlyle also commended his players for finding a way to win
despite not playing their best.
”There’s a number of excuses but we can’t use excuses this time
of year, we just have to find ways to get it done,” he said.
”Once we got our game going then we were able to feel much better
about ourselves because we were pretty low there for a good part of
the hockey game. They reached back … and they’re to be commended
because that’s not an easy situation they’ve just been
Scrivens preserved the one-goal lead with a glove save on Tyson
Strachan with 7:15 left.
Dion Phaneuf also scored for Toronto (18-12-4), which played its
third game in four nights. The Leafs return to action Thursday
night at home against Carolina.
Toronto improved to 9-6-2 at home to remain sixth in the Eastern
Conference with 40 points, two behind fifth-place Ottawa.
Tomas Fleischmann also scored for Florida (9-19-6), which was
coming off a 3-0 loss at the New York Islanders on Sunday night.
The Panthers, last in the Eastern Conference, suffered their third
straight loss concluding a five-game trip.
”We looked like different teams in different sections of the
game,” Florida coach Kevin Dineen said. ”We had a fairly strong
finish but not enough to get the job done.
”Obviously, we caught them on a tired night early in the game.
I liked our tempo early but that’s something we have to keep
throughout the whole game.”
Jacob Markstrom made 28 saves for Florida.
”I thought we deserved a better outcome than this,” Markstrom
said. ”I thought we played a good game and we had a lot of shots
on net. We’ve just got to continue to do that and good things will
happen. It’s not fun to lose and let three goals in. I felt good
but you don’t want to lose.”
NOTES: Scrivens stopped 37 shots in Toronto’s 3-0 win at Florida
on Feb. 18. … Toronto entered the game leading the NHL in hits
(1,075), blocked shots (553) and fighting majors (33).