There may not be much fight left in the Florida Panthers thanks to an endless run of injuries – 208 man-games lost so far in this lockout-shortened season – but the Toronto Maple Leafs cannot take anything for granted on Tuesday night.
Facing the Leafs at the Air Canada Centre will be Panthers goaltender Jacob Markstrom, 23, who is starting to show the potential the scouts saw in him when he was taken 31st overall by Florida in the 2008 NHL entry draft. March may have been a cruel month for the Panthers, with three wins in 13 games, but Markstrom was the goaltender of record in all three after being recalled from the American Hockey League on Mar. 3.
In 10 starts over two stints with the Panthers this season, Markstrom has a 3-6-1 record but his goals-against average is a respectable 2.54 and his save percentage is a nifty .923. In his last three starts, Markstrom stopped 111 of 116 shots in posting two wins and a loss.
“His play has been very solid,” Panthers head coach Kevin Dineen said Tuesday after the game-day skate. “He gives us a chance to win every night.
“With Jake, we’ve talked about potential for a long time. I think we’re beyond that. Now we tell him go out and play, play your game and let your game speak for what you are and what you’re going to be.”
The Panthers will have another lineup change due to injury. Minor-league veteran Greg Rallo will step in for winger Jack Skille, who has an undisclosed injury. Winger Tomas Kopecky is fighting the flu but is expected to play against the Leafs. Defenceman Erik Gudbranson returns to the lineup after missing two games with the flu.
Here are the Panthers’ lines:
Tomas Fleischmann-Marcel Goc-Kopecky
Jonathan Huberdeau-Shawn Matthias-Mike Santorelli
Quinton Howden-Drew Shore-Peter Mueller
Scottie Upshall-Jerred Smithson-Rallo
Tyson Strachan-Brian Campbell
Dmitry Kulikov-Filip Kuba