The Florida Panthers faced the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday night at BB&T Center and won 7-2. It completed a stretch where the Panthers played eight of their last ten games at home.
The Cats snapped a five-game losing streak with the victory. Florida now has a record of 2-7-1 in their last ten games and pulled to six points behind the New York Islanders for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
It did not take long for Florida(30-27-11) to get on the scoreboard as they scored 18 seconds into the contest. Aleksander Barkov won a face-off in the right circle. Jonathan Huberdeau had the puck in the right corner and centered it where Barkov put in a shot from the doorstep for his 18th goal of the season.
Toronto(31-23-14) did not have a shot on goal for almost the first eight minutes of the game. The Panthers then scored a shorthanded goal on the Maple Leafs first power-play opportunity at 10:37. Derek MacKenzie flipped the puck out of the Panthers zone. Colton Sceviour picked up the puck in the neutral zone, skated in on a breakaway and put a forehand shot past Frederick Andersen for the Cats seventh shorthanded tally of the season.
The Maple Leafs had better fortune during their second power play and converted at 13:36. Mark Pysyk had a clearing pass deflected back into his own zone. William Nylander placed a cross-ice pass from the left circle to the right circle where Leo Komarov scored on a one-time slap shot by former Toronto goalie James Reimer.
Florida responded and regained a two-goal lead less than one minute later at the 14:21 mark. Thomas Vanek made a drop pass at the top of the Leafs zone and Jonathan Marchessault threw a wrist shot from the blue line which went in.
The Panthers had three goals on their first six shots of the contest and eight shots during the first period. It led the Maple Leafs to replace Andersen in net before the second period with Curtis McElhinney.
In the second period, the Cats continued their momentum to go up 4-1 at 4:38. Vanek faked a shot from the left circle and passed to Barkov in the high slot. He slowly fed Marchessault in the low slot and he found the open net for his second game of the contest.
Florida added another tally with 3:38 left in the frame to make it 5-1. Keith Yandle made a lead pass from his own zone to Reilly Smith at the Maple Leafs blue line. He skated through the left circle, snapped a shot on goal, get his own rebound and scored his 11th goal of the year.
Toronto cut the deficit to 5-2 with 1:41 remaining in the second as Nikita Soshnikov swept in and scored on a rebound from the crease area. Matt Martin and Brian Boyle were credited with assists on the play.
The Panthers ended the period with a power-play goal with 26.2 seconds to go for a four-goal gap. Vanek was in the slot and connected a pass to his left and Jussi Jokinen scored on a wrist shot.
The third period saw Florida extend their lead to 7-2 at the 2:27 mark. Vanek sent a cross-ice pass from the right circle to the left circle and Yandle fired a slap shot on net.