NHL

Maple Leafs-Panthers Preview

The Florida Panthers responded to a four-game losing streak by beating last season's Stanley Cup finalists on consecutive nights.

The Toronto Maple Leafs don't provide as daunting a task as the Panthers wrap up a four-game homestand Tuesday night hoping to enter the All-Star break on a high note.

Saturday's 5-2 win over Tampa Bay followed a 4-0 victory over Chicago, which came after Florida (28-15-5) was outscored 16-5 over a 0-3-1 span. Even with those defensive lapses, though, the Panthers have allowed an average of 1.83 goals over a 14-3-1 span.

"We knew it was going to be two tough games," coach Gerard Gallant told the team's official website. "It was a good challenge for our team because we haven't played well the last probably five or six games prior; even though we won a few of those games, we didn't get back to our game. And I thought this weekend up until the third period we played great hockey. And that's what we need to do."

Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and an assist against the Lightning and has recorded four of his eight goals on the season in his last eight games. Reilly Smith has scored in three straight and defenseman Brian Campbell got a goal in both wins.

"We know we can beat any team in the league," Huberdeau said. "That just means that we're a really good team and we can just show we've had a struggle lately and we came out this weekend and showed the league that we're a good team against a really good team, too."

Roberto Luongo will start and was in goal for both wins as part of an 11-2-1 personal stretch on which he's posted a 1.70 goals-against average and .943 save percentage. The veteran has won seven straight at home with 1.40 and .951 marks, and he's 13-1-0 with a 2.02 and .931 in his last 16 starts versus the Maple Leafs.

The Panthers have won six of eight meetings over the past two seasons, and the Atlantic Division foes will meet four times between now and the end of the season.

The Maple Leafs (17-20-9) were in high spirits over the holidays with a three-game winning streak Dec. 30-Jan. 6 capping an 8-2-2 span. Since then, though, they've gone 1-5-2 with 10 goals scored, including a 3-2 home shootout loss to Montreal on Saturday.

Toronto is playing back-to-back road games before entering the break having gone 0 for 21 on the power play in its last seven, and it managed just 19 shots in 65 minutes against the Canadiens.

"You get embarrassed when you're getting outworked that bad and you're not competing hard," said coach Mike Babcock, whose team was outshot 14-3 in the opening period.

The Maple Leafs have one goal from top scorer and points leader Leo Komarov in the last 14 games, while Tyler Bozak hasn't scored in his last 12 nor Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau over his previous eight.

James Reimer will be in goal seeking a little more support. Reimer, who has started the last three games, has posted a 1.81 GAA and .942 save percentage in his last 10 games but has a 1-5-3 record to show for it.

Florida's Brandon Pirri scored twice in the latest meeting and has scored in all four of his career games against Toronto, but he's been a healthy scratch for the last two games as trade rumors swirl. The forward, who had a career-high 22 goals last season, doesn't have a point in his last six games.

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