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Tuesday Caterwaul: Florida Panthers Open Forum

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Maple Leafs and Lightning gain ground on idle Cats

Toronto Maple Leafs v Nashville Predators Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs pulled two points closer to the Florida Panthers with a convincing 5-2 road win over the Nashville Predators last night at Bridgestone Arena.

Former Florida draft pick Zach Hyman and rookie Rasmus Sandin each scored a goal and added an assist and the Buds also got goals from William Nylander, Jason Spezza and Auston Matthews.

The Maple Leafs now trail the Panthers by two points (61-59) and have played one more game than the Cats.

Florida almost got the help they were looking for from the Dallas Stars, but Steven Stamkos second goal of the night with 1:26 regulation sent the game to overtime, allowing the Tampa Bay Lightning to pick up a point after Jamie Benn won it in the extra session.

A close call, but one point is better than two. The Bolts now have a two-point lead on the Panthers with both teams having played 49 games.

In other Eastern Conference action, New Jersey beat Ottawa 4-3 in a shootout and Montreal’s fading playoff chances took another blow with a 4-2 home ice loss to Washington.

Out west, Vancouver beat St. Louis 3-1 and San Jose doubled up Anaheim by a 4-2 count.

There are only two games tonight and neither really affects the Panthers too much although an Ottawa win over Buffalo would help keep Sabres down. The Blues will pay a visit Calgary in the late night tilt.

AHL

Hershey Bears goaltender Vitek Vanecek allowed only two goals over parts of four games to earn Most Valuable Player honors and help the Atlantic Division to victory in the 2020 AHL All-Star Challenge on Monday night.

Owen Tippett had an upper body issue and did not participate in the tournament.

The Springfield Thunderbirds will return to action on Friday when they visit the Hartford Wolf Pack.