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Can Florida Panthers Slow Matthews, Leafs Down Tonight?

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Florida center Kevin Stenlund go after the puck during the second period on Oct. 19 in Sunrise. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

The Florida Panthers have a huge task on their hands tonight when they play the host Toronto Maple Leafs — and their prolific scorer, Auston Matthews.

Matthews has 60 goals this season — including seven last month — and will be looking to add more tonight against the Panthers.

Toronto has won its past two games as it tries to either catch the Panthers and Bruins in the standings, all while hold off Tampa Bay.

The Maple Leafs can clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Panthers — although they also need a few other things to go down for that to happen tonight.

“What game is this, 74? He’s got 60 of them. No one has figured that out,” coach Paul Maurice said. “I’m not the smartest guy in the league, I’m just going to put a bunch of guys out there on him and they hopefully defend the hell out of it if we can. You’re not stopping. You just hope he scores them the next night, not when you are in town.’’

Added Matthew Tkachuk: “There is a lot of firepower over there and it is tough to contain them all. … He’s probably the best goal-scorer in the league.”

Slowing Matthews is not easy, although, the Panthers have done so in the past.

In two games against Florida this season, Matthews has yet to record a point.

In Florida’s 5-game series win against the Leafs in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Matthews was held to two assists — and no points in the final three games.

That means, Matthews has not recorded a point against the Panthers in his past five games against them and has not scored a goal on Florida since April 10.

“He is such a dynamic player who can score in many different ways,” said Sam Reinhart, who has 51 goals this season. “He is the head of the snake over there, and the guy we will be focused on.”

The Panthers appear to be going back to some familiarity at least when it comes to their fourth line.

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Both Jonah Gadjovich and Ryan Lomberg, who have been healthy scratches the past few games, look to be back in tonight.

The starting goalies: Sergei Bobrovsky and Ilya Samsonov.

ON DECK

FLORIDA PANTHERS @ TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

  • When: Monday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports SUN/ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (West Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); WCZR 101.7-FM (Treasure Coast); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Local NHL Betting Odds — Panthers Favored: Money Line (-125); Puck line (-1.5, +180); Over/Under 6.5 (-105/-125)
  • This Season (Tied 1-1) — At Florida: Panthers 3, Leafs 1 (Oct. 19); April 16. At Toronto: Leafs 2, Panthers 1 (Nov. 28); Monday.
  • Last Season: Toronto won Regular Season Series 3-1; Florida won Eastern Conference Semifinals 4-1
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Toronto leads 49-37-7, 7 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Tuesday at Montreal, 7 p.m.

PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS (47-22-5) LINEUP

23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 13 Sam Reinhart

17 Evan Rodrigues // 9 Sam Bennett // 19 Matthew Tkachuk

27 Eetu Luostarinen //15 Anton Lundell // 10 Vladimir Tarasenko

12 Jonah Gadjovich // 82 Kevin Stenlund // 94 Ryan Lomberg

42 Gus Forsling // 5 Aaron Ekblad

77 Niko Mikkola // 62 Brandon Montour

91 Oliver Ekman-Larsson // 7 Dmitry Kulikov

72 Sergei Bobrovsky

41 Anthony Stolarz

Scratched: Kyle Okposo, Steven Lorentz, Nick Cousins, Josh Mahura, Toby Bjornfot

Injured: None

PROJECTED TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (42-22-9) LINEUP

59 Tyler Bertuzzi // 34 Auston Matthews // 11 Max Domi

74 Bobby McMann // 91 John Tavares //88  William Nylander

23 Matthew Knies // 29 Pontus Holmberg // 89 Nicholas Robertson

24 Connor Dewar // 64 David Kampf // 75 Ryan Reaves

78 TJ Brodie // 46 Ilya Lyubushkin

2 Simon Benoit // 22 Jake McCabe

55 Mark Giordano // 25 Conor Timmins

35 Ilya Samsonov

60 Joseph Woll

Scratched: Martin Jones, Noah Gregor

Injured: Calle Jarnkrok (hand), Mitch Marner (high ankle sprain), Morgan Rielly (upper body), Joel Edmundson (undisclosed), Matt Murray (hip), Timothy Liljegren (upper body)

Toronto Maple Leafs lines courtesy NHL.com

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