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Maple Leafs on the verge of playoff birth after victory over Panthers



Lucas Viveiros | The Avro Post

The Toronto Maple Leafs fended off a late push from the Panthers to take the victory 4-3. 

Toronto came out flying from start time, dominating puck possession, shots, and ultimately it paying off on the scoreboard, taking a commanding 3-0 lead in the first period.

Mitch Marner (21), Auston Matthews (30), and Patrick Marleau (25) all found the back of the net, in what looked like would be a run away evening for the Maple Leafs.

Marner had a dandy of a opening period, in coach Mike Babcock’s words, “Mitch was dominant.”

But the Panthers showed life before the conclusion of the first frame, with Jonathan Huberdeau finding the scoresheet, cutting the lead to 3-1.

Huberdeau would add another in the second period, to make the game interesting.

The Maple Leafs were able to hang on however, as James Van Riemsdyk buried his 35th goal of the season, and 200th of his NHL career midway through the final period, extending the lead to 4-2.

Evgenii Dadonov was able to add one late, but the Panthers would fall short of a comeback, dropping the decision 4-3.

Up next, Toronto is scheduled to match up against the New York Islanders on Friday.

With a victory, or a Panthers loss on Thursday, the Maple Leafs can clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Game time is slated for 7:00 p.m. from Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, and can be viewed on TSN 4.

More news from the ice

  • The Leafs surpassed their franchise record for most wins in a season now with 46, and home wins in a season now with 27
  • Toronto now sits with 99 points on the season, four points back of matching their franchise record set back in 2003-2004
  • Tomas Plekanec tallied his first career point as Leaf, assisting on Marner’s first period goal
  • With the victory, Fredrik Andersen established a career high for wins in a season with 36
  • Winger Leo Komarov looks very close to returning to game action, as he continues to skate with the team

More coverage to follow. Image from SB Nation.

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