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GameDay Caterwaul: Florida Panthers at Toronto Maple Leafs

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Cats need two points to keep heat on Devils

NHL: Florida Panthers at Toronto Maple Leafs John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers (39-28-7 85P) at Maple Leafs (45-24-7 97P)

  • WHEN: 7:30 p.m. ET - LBC GameThread right here at 7:00ish
  • WHERE: Air Canada Centre - Toronto, ON
  • ON THE TUBE: FOX Sports Florida, TSN
  • ON THE DIAL: 560 WQAM (D/B), 640 WMEN (PB), 1370 WAXE (TC), Thunder 100.3 (Keys)
  • SOCIALS: #FlaPanthers, #TMLtalk, #FLAvsTML, @LitterBoxCats, LBC FaceBook
  • ENEMY INTEL: Pension Plan Puppets
  • FLA IN SEASON SERIES: Game 4 of 4 (2-1-0)
  • ALL-TIME vs TOR: 36W-34L-7T 2OTL 4SOL 244GF 235GA
  • ALL-TIME at TOR: 16W-19L-2T 1OTL 2SOL 114GF 119GA
  • LAST MEETING: @ FLA 3, TOR 2 (OT) - (Recap) - 2/27/2018
  • NEXT MEETING: Playoffs or 2018-19
  • PROJECTED STARTERS: Luongo (15-10-2 .927/2.55 3SO) vs Andersen (35-20-5 .918/2.81 5SO)
  • PLAYER STATS: Florida / Toronto

Scouting Report (Courtesy of Stats LLC)

The Florida Panthers will be trying to keep their playoff drive alive Wednesday night while the Toronto Maple Leafs will make another attempt to set a franchise record for wins in a season.

The Panthers (39-28-7) defeated the New York Islanders 3-0 Monday night as they pursue the New Jersey Devils for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

”I really haven’t been paying much attention to what’s going on with the Devils and those other teams, but obviously we know it’s tight and you can’t afford to lose at this point,” said Panthers center Nick Bjugstad, who scored a goal Monday. “There’s not much breathing room here at the end of the year. We’ve got a tough schedule coming up here, a lot of games, but it’s going to be a fun challenge.”

The Maple Leafs (45-24-7) are secure in their playoff spot but will be trying for a franchise-record in wins for a season with 46. That goal was thwarted by a 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres Monday night in which they had a 41-27 advantage in shots on goal. The loss also stopped a franchise-record 13-game home winning streak and prevented the Maple Leafs from winning their 27th home game of the season, which also would be a team record.

”I think we got a nice warning against Detroit (a 4-3 win over the Red Wings Saturday) that no matter if the teams are playing for the first draft pick or whatever or they’re playing for the playoffs, they’re going to bring it every night,” Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen said. “I think we came prepared, I think we played well tonight -- we could have hit the net a little bit more maybe, but I think we had a lot of good opportunities. Those nights are going to happen, and I think we played a good game overall.”

A former Maple Leafs goaltender, James Reimer, has played a big part in the Panthers attempt at a playoff spot.

Reimer made 32 saves for his fifth consecutive win Monday. The backup to Roberto Luongo earned his fourth shutout of the season. He is 7-1-0 since returning from injury Feb. 12.

”I just tried to be big in there and try to read the puck as best as I could and be on it,” Reimer said. “And then rely on your D-men to clear any garbage, and they did a great job.”

”Reims has answered the bell every time,” Panthers coach Bob Boughner said. “This is the part of the season you need guys stepping up and he’s been one of our guys that’s stepped up for us. His preparation is real good and you can see he was focused right from the drop of the puck tonight, made some big saves.”

Monday night, the Panthers signed their first-round draft pick from 2016, center Henrik Borgstrom to a three-year entry-level contract. He could join the team as soon as Wednesday.

Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said there are things his team can improve on from their performance on Monday.

”Obviously, I thought our turnovers in our own zone in the first period; I thought we were a little bit loose,” he said. “We’ve got to hit the net, we had so many opportunities in the offensive zone and we failed to hit the net. We missed the net, just looking right here, it says 26 times we missed the net. So, I mean, that would be part of it too. In the end, we had every opportunity to win, we were a little too loose and we didn’t win. Let’s get back to work.

”I thought we had lots of good things, but then we got carried away with it and gave up some chances. Now, the puck has got to stay out too. The bottom line is we did lots of good things, we didn’t win the game. I still think we can be better without it at times. I thought we turned it over a bit too much -- too cute -- and in the end you go home disappointed.

Wednesday in the Atlantic (Standings/Panthers Playoff Chances):

Idle: TBL (106P), BOS (105P), MON (68P), DET (67P), OTT (63P), BUF (60P)

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