Leafs' Scrivens earns second straight shutout
SUNRISE, Fla. -- The Toronto Maple Leafs' goaltending was a question mark when the season began, but it's looking pretty good now.
Ben Scrivens, playing because starter James Reimer has a knee injury, earned his second straight shutout as the sizzling Maple Leafs earned a 3-0 victory over the slumping Florida Panthers on Monday night.
Scrivens, a 26-year-old playing in his NHL season, never had a shutout in the league before blanking the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, also by a 3-0 score.
His sudden emergence is a big story for the Leafs, but Scrivens took a modest view of his success.
"I got help from a post in Ottawa and again tonight," said Scrivens, who made 37 saves against Florida. "A shutout is a team stat, not strictly a goaltender's stat. The guys in front of me did a great job, killed (three) penalties, especially a big one late in the third period to really solidify it."
Scrivens and Reimer came into this season with a combined total of 83 games of NHL experience. So far, though, both are in the top 10 in the league in save percentage.
Backed by Scrivens and goals from Phil Kessel, Nazem Kadri and Clarke MacArthur, the Leafs (10-6-0) have won six of their past seven games and have 20 points in 16 games. Most impressive, they are 7-2 on the road.
The Leafs also snapped a five-game losing streak in their series against Florida. Last season, the Panthers swept all four games, outscoring Toronto 20-9. The Panthers got five goals in each of those games.
On Monday, Leafs coach Randy Carlyle insisted that the win was not as easy as it looked and even used some sarcasm to illustrate his point.
"The tonic for tonight was that we gave them some quality scoring chances to start each period," he said. "It was alarming from a coaching perspective, but we found a way to stay close, and that's what you have to do on the road."
Carlyle said his defense got better after the first period, reducing the "Grade A" scoring chances Florida was getting early.
"Midway through the second period, we took over the hockey game," Carlyle said.
Meanwhile, Florida's problems persist. The Panthers (4-7-4) have lost five straight games. Five of their past seven games have gone to overtime, but, this time, the Panthers failed to get a point. Their four-game homestand ended with just three points earned.
"It's hard to get in anyone's brain what happened," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said of Monday's loss. "We couldn't generate anything."
With 17:04 elapsed in the first period, Kessel put Toronto in front. He received a pass from James van Riemsdyk as the Leafs took advantage of a turnover by Panthers defenseman Mike Weaver, then finished the breakaway by scoring past goalie Jose Theodore. It was Kessel's third goal of the season.
The only other first-period highlight was a spirited brawl featuring the Leafs' Colton Orr and Florida's George Parros.
With 12:13 elapsed in the second period, the Leafs got a power-play goal from Kadri, who was in the slot when he received a pass from behind the net from Dion Phaneuf. Kadri's fifth goal of the season was set up by a hooking penalty on Tomas Fleischmann.
Just 1:44 later, MacArthur scored his third goal of the season to make it 3-0 Toronto. The assists went to Kadri and Cody Franson.
"We didn't respond very well," Dineen said of the Leafs' second-period aggression.
The frustrated Panthers then picked another fight. Florida's Tyson Strachan and Frazer McLaren dropped the gloves for a quick bout, but that was the last bit of noise the Panthers made on this night.
"We have a lot of work to do going on the road the next couple of games," Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell said. "We can't put ourselves in these situations. It's frustrating."
NOTES: Even though the game was played at Florida's BB&T Center, "Let's Go Leafs" chants were loudly audible, especially after Toronto goals. ... Panthers forward Kris Versteeg (upper-body injury) was scratched for the third straight game. ... Panthers defenseman and team captain Ed Jovanovski (knee injury) resumed skating Friday but is still about two weeks away from being able to play. "It's disappointing to him and disappointing to us," Dineen said. "He leaves a void on our team, both on and off the ice." ... In their past five games, the Panthers have been maddeningly inconsistent on offense, scoring, in order, zero, five, zero, five and zero goals. The only consistent thing for the Panthers: losing. ... The Leafs conclude their Florida swing Tuesday with a game at Tampa Bay. ... The Panthers will visit the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.
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