The Toronto Maple Leafs bounced back from their shootout loss last night to the Boston Bruins and picked up a big home win against the Florida Panthers. The league’s last place team put forward a great effort, but it wasn’t enough to come away with two points. Two third period goals powered Toronto to a 3-2 victory.
It wasn’t the Leafs’ finest hour as the Panthers out-shot them 42-31 and out-played them for stretches of this one. However, Toronto still found a way to come out on top and that’s what teams looking to make the playoffs need to do.
Here are a few things that stood out from the game.
The Leafs started slow and only managed seven shots in the opening frame, compared to 16 by the Panthers. Part of the reason was obviously the tough game in Boston last night, but coming out of the gates sluggish gave the Panthers life. A weaker team like Florida needs to be dealt with early, otherwise they gain belief and start to build momentum. Starting the way they did won’t produce two points very often, so the Leafs were fortunate on this night.
Ben Scrivens was sharp
Scrivens was on his game tonight and made 40 saves, including several of the spectacular variety. If not for his strong effort, the Leafs may have not had a chance to regroup and get their legs under them. The only two goals he gave up were due to bad bounces off his defensemen. If Scrivens can step in this way in the second game of back-to-back situations, the Leafs will be in good shape down the stretch. He also showed why it’s becoming difficult for Randy Carlyle to just give James Reimer the number one job.
Joffrey Lupul is arguably the team’s most important player
The Leafs just look like a different team when Lupul is in the line-up and he now has six goals in his last four games. His two tallies in the third period tonight really gave the team a shot in the arm and Lupul always plays with plenty of emotion. He has scored in every game since his return from injury and nothing against Dion Phaneuf, but it’s starting to look like Lupul might be the best choice for captain of the squad.
James van Riemsdyk lacking confidence
As well as van Riemsdyk was playing earlier in the year, he is playing equally bad at the moment. Tonight was the fifth straight game where he failed to find the score sheet and he hasn’t scored since March 9th. Van Riemsdyk simply isn’t playing with the same confidence he started the year with and that was evident against the Panthers. He was a little tentative and one instance that stood out was when he had a partial breakaway, but was caught from behind by Erik Gudbranson and failed to get a shot off. Normally van Riemsdyk would have used his size and speed and driven right through the crease.