NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, January 30th
(All times Eastern)
Florida Panthers (21-25-7) at Toronto Maple Leafs (28-21-6), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to continue a three-
game homestand with a second straight victory when they welcome the Florida
Panthers for Thursday's Atlantic Division battle at Air Canada Centre.
The Maple Leafs lost the final two tilts on a four-game road trip before
notching a 3-2 regulation win Tuesday against the visiting Tampa Bay
Lightning. It was the seventh victory in nine games (7-1-1) for Toronto, which
is currently in third place in the Atlantic, one point ahead of the rival
James van Riemsdyk recorded the tie-breaking goal with 4:03 remaining in the
third period to lift the Maple Leafs to the close win over the Lightning.
Van Riemsdyk's tally came after Tampa scored twice late in the second period
to rally from a 2-0 deficit created by a pair of Nazem Kadri markers.
Jonathan Bernier did more than his share between the pipes, turning back 40
shots, including all 13 he faced during the final period.
The deciding goal was set up by a takeaway in the Tampa Bay zone by Tyler
Bozak, who worked the puck out to Phil Kessel as van Riemsdyk skated hard into
the right slot. Kessel promptly found his open linemate for a quick wrister
that Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop had little chance to defend.
"Bozie did a great job on the forecheck and forcing their (defense) to make a
play under pressure, and Phil slid (the puck) over to me and put it on a
platter for me," said van Riemsdyk of the goal.
The win pushed Toronto's home record to 18-10-1 this season. The Leafs will
cap their current homestand in Saturday's game against Ottawa.
Toronto could be without defenseman Tim Gleason tonight after he injured his
shoulder crashing into the boards on Tuesday. Gleason, who has one goal and
one assists in 12 games since coming over to the Leafs in a trade with
Carolina, did not practice on Wednesday and is questionable for tonight.
Florida, which is eight points out of a playoff spot in the East, lost for the
second time in three games in Tuesday's 6-2 blowout loss in Boston. The game
marked Tim Thomas' first game back in Boston and it did not go well for the
former Bruins goaltender.
Thomas gave up six goals on 41 shots in Florida's lopsided loss to the Bruins.
The 39-year-old Thomas played for Boston for eight seasons (2002-03 &
2005-12), leading the Bruins to the 2011 Stanley Cup while earning the Conn
Smythe Trophy. He also won a pair of Vezina Trophies during his tenure with
Tuesday marked Thomas' first game in Boston since his departure from the
Bruins after the 2011-12 season. He played against Boston on Oct. 17, 2013, at
BB&T Center, but was injured when the Panthers visited the Bruins a few weeks
"They're a good team," Thomas said. "They made the (Cup) Finals last year for
a reason and they played a good game against us tonight combined with us not
playing our best game, myself included, they took advantage of it and they
just kept coming at us."
Brad Boyes and Dmitry Kulikov scored for the Panthers, who lost for the sixth
straight time against Boston.
Florida has won three straight on the road before Tuesday's setback. The club
is 11-14-3 overall as the guest this season and will cap a four-game road trip
Saturday in Columbus.
The Panthers recorded a 3-1 win in Toronto on Dec. 17, ending a three-game
losing streak in this series. Florida has claimed three of the past four
encounters at Air Canada Centre.
01/30 10:46:28 ET