Struggling Panthers Move On To Toronto As Playoff Hopes Fade

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TORONTO (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – Two division rivals heading in opposite directions will meet in the hockey capital of the world on Tuesday.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in position to reach the postseason for just the second time since the 2004-05 lockout and attempt to strengthen their chances when they host the Florida Panthers.

Toronto, which is riding an eight-game point streak at home (5-0-3), enters the contest in third place in the Atlantic Division – one point ahead of Boston.

The Maple Leafs had their five-game overall point streak halted with Saturday’s 5-2 setback in Buffalo, but William Nylander notched an assist to extend his franchise rookie-record point run to 11 contests.

The 20-year-old forward has collected four goals and nine assists during the stretch while Auston Matthews ran his point streak to five games with his 34th goal, keeping him even with Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine for the league lead among rookies.

Florida’s chances of reaching the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in 20 years took a major hit with Monday’s 4-2 loss to Buffalo in the opener of its four-game road trip.

The Panthers are seven points behind the Bruins for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with four teams between them and seven games remaining.

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FSN Florida, TSN4 (Toronto)

ABOUT THE PANTHERS (33-31-11): Jonathan Marchessault scored his team-leading 29th goal Monday in his 68th game after recording eight over his first 49 NHL contests.

The 26-year-old forward is riding a three-game goal-scoring streak during which he has netted six tallies.

Jonathan Huberdeau notched a goal and an assist against the Sabres, giving him seven points over his last three contests.

ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (35-24-15): Goaltender Garret Sparks was recalled from the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis as a result of Frederik Andersen’s upper-body injury in Saturday’s loss to Buffalo.

The 23-year-old Sparks made his NHL debut last season, going 6-9-1 with one shutout and a 3.02 goals-against average in 17 games.

Defenseman Jake Gardiner, who has recorded a career-high 36 points this season, is one game shy of 400 in the NHL.

OVERTIME

  1. The Maple Leafs also recalled 20-year-old RW Kasperi Kapanen, who appeared in nine games last season, from the Marlies.
  2. Florida C Aleksander Barkov is three assists shy of 100 for his career.
  3. Toronto F Leo Komarov’s next point will be his 100th in the NHL.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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