Leafs look to keep hot streak going vs. Panthers

NHL Hockey
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The Toronto Maple Leafs will be trying to extend their three-game winning streak Monday night when they play the visiting Florida Panthers, who had their own streak stopped at six wins on Saturday.

The Leafs have won all three of their games since the All-Star break, including a 2-1 overtime decision Saturday night over the visiting Ottawa Senators.

The Panthers, playing for the first time since Jan. 21 on Saturday, lost 4-0 to the host Montreal Canadiens.

The second game of Florida’s six-game win streak came at home on Jan. 12 with an 8-4 rout of the Maple Leafs.

Toronto will be looking for a little revenge on Monday.

“They’re going to be coming in here on Monday and we certainly know we didn’t like the way that we played and the result we got when we were out there,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters. “We know we have to be a whole lot better here Monday and we’re excited for a chance to play for us a really important game.”

“We have to bring it to another level,” said Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 31 saves Saturday. “At this time of the year, the games and points are so important. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve had a break, you have to find a way to get the wins and get the points. It’s less and less games, so the points are crucial.”

Panthers center Aleksander Barkov, who has 16 goals and 38 assists, left the game Saturday during the second period with a lower-body injury after being hit along the boards by Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber.

“We’re thinking that it’s not serious, but we’ll get a better gauge on the timing of it,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville told reporters.

Barkov is one point away from becoming the third player in franchise history to reach 400 points.

The game Monday is significant because the teams are Atlantic Division rivals. The Panthers trail the third-place Maple Leafs by two points with two games in hand.

“We’ve got 32 (games) to go,” Quenneville said. “You know how important it’s going to be for both teams. That’s where we’re at. If you want to be a playoff team, you’ve got to do everything you can to find a way to win two points. That’s going to be our concentration.”

The Maple Leafs defeated the Senators with backup goaltender Michael Hutchinson making his first start since Jan. 4, although he had two relief appearances in between.

That saved No. 1 goaltender Frederik Andersen for Monday.

Also expected to return to Toronto’s lineup is right winger Kasperi Kapanen, who was a healthy scratch Saturday, a move that Keefe said was for “internal accountability.”

Kapanen was expected to talk to the media on Monday.

This will be the second of a stretch in which Toronto plays five of seven at home.

“We obviously just want to continue to build on the way we responded after the break,” Maple Leafs center and captain John Tavares said. “Just the attention to detail consistently over 60 minutes without the puck and especially being smart at the right times in the right areas. Still wanting to obviously be dynamic, control possession and create opportunity.”

–Field Level Media

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