The Toronto Maple Leafs played extremely well when they took three-of-four points from the Boston Bruins, but needed Joffrey Lupul to save them from suffering a letdown against the lowly Florida Panthers.
Lupul scored two goals in the third to put the Leafs on his shoulders and carry Toronto to a 3-2 victory over Florida. The Leafs improve to 3-0-2 (18-12-4), over the last week after a horrendous stretch that included a five game losing streak.
Lupul has been the Leafs bread and butter since his return from a broken forearm, scoring six goals in four games since returning.
Toronto was coming off a 3-2 shootout loss in Boston –who sits second in the Eastern Conference- Monday after beating the big, bad Bruins on Saturday. Playing two tough games against the Boston should have made the last place Panthers a welcome sight, but that was not the case. Lupul had to come to the rescue again.
Lupul scored a power play goal 22 seconds into the third to go ahead 2-1, only to see Shawn Matthias tie the game up less than 30 seconds later after banking the puck off of Mike Kostka’s skate. Lupul wouldn’t have any of that though, and permanently put Toronto ahead when he fired a shot past Jacob Markstrom at 3:12.
Captain Dion Phaneuf scored the other goal for Toronto. Ben Scrivens got the win in the net for the Leafs as he stopped 40 shots, including a late rush by the Panthers in the final few minutes who had their goaltender pulled.
“It’s definitely not the Boston Bruins over there as far as names and experience go but they came out and played hard,” said Lupul to reporters after the game.
As for his dazzling offensive performances as of late, Lupul says he doesn’t expect it to last forever, but he’s going to continue doing the right things.
“I’m not expecting it to last forever, so I just have to keep doing other things on the ice right and continue to be a factor in the game.”
Toronto, who played their fifth in seven days, is currently two points behind Ontario rivals, the Ottawa Senators, for fifth place. The Leafs have 40 points, which is seven ahead of the ninth place New York Islanders.
In this position it looks like the Leafs have a fairly good chance of making the postseason for the first time since 2004, the longest active streak in the NHL. Never say never though, as there is always the chance of their season going the way of “an 18-wheeler going right off a cliff” (Thank you Burkie).
Carlyle had nothing but good things to say about Lupul’s play after the game.
“He just plays the game at a higher level and works at a higher level than a lot of people,” Carlyle said. “That’s a great example for our younger players.”
The Leafs next contest comes tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes.