The Florida Panthers extended their winning streak to four games with a 3-1 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs last night at the Air Canada Centre. Florida has won four games in a row for the first time in two years. The team previously accomplished the feat back in March of 2012 when they won five straight.
Scott Clemmensen picked up his third straight win and made 28 saves on 29 shots. He has not lost since taking over the starting role in place of the injured Tim Thomas. The Panthers received goals from Tomas Fleischmann (5th of the year), Sean Bergenheim (4) and Brad Boyes (9). Aleksander Barkov had two assists in the win which improved Florida’s record to 13-17-5. The Panthers now have 31 points and are only six points behind the Maple Leafs for the last playoff spot in the East.
Erik Gudbranson was back in the lineup last night after leaving Sunday’s game against the Canadiens with a cut on his leg. Jonathan Huberdeau missed his second straight game with a foot injury and Jesse Winchester sat out with a hand injury. Both are expected to be back in the lineup soon, possibly as soon as Thursday night when the Panthers take on the Ottawa Senators.
The Panthers have won the first two games of their four game Canadian road trip and they have also won six of eight games to start December. Florida’s success has been a result of timely scoring and some very strong defense. In their six December wins, they have only allowed nine goals and they have not given up more than two goals once during their current four game win streak.
The Panthers have also benefited from some schedule luck as three of their six December wins have come against teams playing the second half of a back-to-back (Toronto, Montreal and Detroit). The Panthers will play a back-to-back of their own to close out their road trip. They will face the Senators on Thursday and wrap things up against the Jets on Friday.