Maple Leafs-Panthers Preview
By MATT BEARDMORE
(AP) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are on the verge of matching their best road start in more than seven decades.
If they're going to accomplish that feat on Monday night, they'll have to win for the first time in six games against the Florida Panthers.
Despite losing 3-1 to Carolina on Thursday in their last game in an opponent's arena, the Maple Leafs (9-6-0) have a 6-2-0 record outside Toronto. The last time they opened 7-2-0 on the road was 1940-41.
The Maple Leafs have been outscored 20-6 while losing each of their last five games in Sunrise, including two in 2011-12 when Florida swept the four-game season series.
Toronto, though, has some momentum on its side after Saturday's 3-0 victory over Ottawa gave the club its fifth win in six games. Starting a second consecutive contest for injured starter James Reimer (knee), Ben Scrivens made 34 saves for his first career shutout.
"Any goalie will tell you a shutout is a team stat and the guys definitely helped me out big-time tonight," said Scrivens, who will likely make his first career start versus Florida. "They let me see the puck, they cleared away second chances, so much of the credit goes to them."
The Maple Leafs' penalty kill has been outstanding, failing just once in 18 chances over the last five games.
That doesn't bode well for a Florida club that's 0 for 12 on the power play during its 0-1-3 skid.
The Panthers (4-6-4) will try to salvage the finale of their four-game homestand after losing in overtime in each of the last three.
"We're not finishing," coach Kevin Dineen said after his team yielded the game-tying goal with 11 seconds left in regulation in Saturday's 6-5 loss to Tampa Bay. "You're not going to get in the playoffs with 48 points. You can't try to get a point a game - it's just not going to work. We've got to find a way a more complete effort and end up with two points."
Florida, loser of five of its last six at home, has points in seven of eight contests since a season-worst five-game skid from Jan. 21-29.
Jose Theodore was shaky on Saturday with a season-high six goals allowed, but he might be able to help the Panthers get back into the win column. The veteran netminder has won his last five starts versus Toronto, including all four last season.
Phil Kessel, the Maple Leafs' leader with five points in those contests, has both of his goals and nine of his 11 points on the road this season. Kessel had two goals and five assists in a four-game road point streak before being held off the scoresheet on Thursday.
Toronto's James van Riemsdyk has six of his team-best eight goals away from home. He had one goal and two assists in five games at Florida while with Philadelphia.
Panthers leading scorer Tomas Fleischmann is one goal shy of 100.
Toronto's last victory over Florida was 4-3 in a shootout at home on Feb. 1, 2011.
Updated February 17, 2013