Toronto notches record win No. 46 with victory over Panthers

Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist to extend his point streak to 10 games as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Florida Panthers 4-3 on Wednesday to set a new franchise record for wins in a season with 46.

James van Riemsdyk added his 35th goal of the season — and the 200th of his career — for Toronto (46-24-7), while Auston Matthews and Patrick Marleau also hit milestones with their 30th and 25th goals of the campaign, respectively.

Frederik Andersen made 30 saves in set a career-high with his 36th victory.

Jonathan Huberdeau, with two, and Evgenii Dadonov replied for Florida (39-29-7), which got 31 stops from Roberto Luongo, including a couple of big ones early.

Both Huberdeau and Dadonov hit the 25-goal mark.

With the win, Toronto also set a high-water mark with its 27th home win, and can clinch a playoff spot if the Philadelphia Flyers lose in regulation to the Colorado Avalanche later Wednesday.

Florida, meanwhile, remains three points back of New Jersey for the second wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference, with one game in hand.

Leafs fly in 1st

Toronto, which saw its club-record home winning streak snapped at 13 by last-place Buffalo on Monday, came out flying, with Luongo stoning van Riemsdyk on a breakaway before robbing Tyler Bozak of what looked like a sure goal with an outrageous blocker save inside two minutes.

But the Leafs finally broke through at 3:05 when Marner was quickest to his own rebound off the end boards to blast his 21st shortside.

Luongo thwarted another Bozak chance from the slot later in the period, but could do nothing when Matthews beat him five-hole on what turned into a 4-on-2 rush with the Panthers caught gambling at 9:24.

Matthews scored 40 goals in 2016-17 as a rookie, but has missed 20 games this season with various injuries. He joins van Riemsdyk and Nazem Kadri (30) in the Leafs’ 30-goal club in 2017-18.

Toronto then made it 3-0 at 13:55 when Marner wheeled off the boards and found a wide-open Marleau for a tap-in.

Marner, who has four goals and nine assists in his point streak, now has 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists) in his last 20 games. Marleau, meanwhile, tied Frank Mahovlich for 33rd on the NHL’s all-time list with the 533rd goal of the 38-year-old’s career.

Panthers claw back

Florida cut the deficit to 3-1 at 17:49 when Huberdeau took advantage of a Zach Hyman miscue in the Leafs zone and zipped his 24th past Andersen.

Desperate for points in their playoff chase, the Panthers couldn’t capitalize on a 37-second 5-on-3 power play early in the second before Andersen robbed Huberdeau with a diving glove save after one of the penalized Leafs had returned.

But Huberdeau wouldn’t be denied at 15:08 when he picked the top corner on Andersen after Aaron Eklad hit the post midway through the period for Florida, which was 13-3-1 over its previous 17 coming into Wednesday.

Van Riemsdyk continues tear

The Panthers continued to push in the third, with Andersen stopping an early Nick Bjugstad opportunity in tight before Luongo shot out his blocker on a Marner chance at the other end.

Luongo shot out his pad to rob van Riemsdyk once again, but the big winger followed up his own rebound while getting slammed to the ice for the 200th goal of his career at 11:48.

Van Riemsdyk now has nine goals and three assists in his last eight games.

Dadonov poked his 25th past Andersen on a rebound with 1:26 left on the clock, but the Leafs held on from there to set a couple of franchise marks.

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CBC | Sports News