Florida at Toronto
When: 7:30 PM ET, Thursday, March 26, 2015
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
The Florida Panthers have a new team to pursue in their quest for an Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Panthers look to gain ground on the streaking Ottawa Senators as they visit Air Canada Centre on Thursday night for a date with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Florida had been chasing the Boston Bruins for the final wild-card berth, but the Bruins' five-game skid - coupled with Ottawa's seven-game winning streak - has put the Senators in the spotlight.
Regardless of which team is in their sights, the Panthers know they'll need a better effort than the one they showed in Tuesday's 4-3 defeat at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was a costly loss for the Panthers, who erased an early two-goal deficit with three second-period tallies - only to watch their cross-state rivals score two in the third to prevail. The Maple Leafs have lost six in a row and have amassed just eight wins since mid-December.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Florida, TSN4 (Toronto)
ABOUT THE PANTHERS (33-26-14): Florida must like what it has seen from trade-deadline acquisition Jaromir Jagr, with George Richards of the Miami Herald reporting that the team is interested in re-signing the 43-year-old forward. Jagr has scored twice and added six assists in 11 games since coming to the Panthers in a trade with New Jersey, and says he's only focused on the task at hand. "My goal is just to help this team make the playoffs," he told the Herald. "I never think about the future."
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (27-41-6): In the recent past, no amount of losing would keep Toronto fans from filling the ACC to capacity on a nightly basis. But with the defeats piling up at an alarming rate, supporters are becoming more vocal - and sent a significant message with their wallets earlier this week, as the Maple Leafs drew an ACC record-low 18,366 for Monday's loss to the Minnesota Wild. Yet, despite the difficult season, Toronto ranks seventh in the league in average home attendance at 19,076.
1. Florida has won four of the last five meetings, though Toronto prevailed 3-2 in the previous encounter March 3.
2. Jagr is six points away from tying former teammate Ron Francis for fourth on the all-time list.
3. Florida has dropped five straight games against teams that scored two or fewer goals in their previous encounter.
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 3, Panthers 2
Stats and Records