Joffrey Lupul scored the game-winner early in the third period as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Florida Panthers, 3-2, on Tuesday.
Lupul scored twice in the game while Dion Phaneuf had the other goal for the Maple Leafs, who have won three of five and hold a three-point edge over New Jersey for the sixth spot in the Eastern Conference. Ben Scrivens stopped 40 shots in the win.
Tomas Fleischmann and Shawn Matthias each scored for the Panthers, who went 2-3-0 on their five-game road trip and sit in last place in the Eastern Conference. Jacob Markstrom turned away 28 shots in the loss.
"We looked like a different team in different sections of the game," Panthers coach Kevin Dineen admitted. "You play 25, 30 solid minutes and then have a few issues that we have to take care of...We had a fairly strong finish but not enough to get the job done."
Toronto took a 2-1 lead just 22 seconds into the third while on the power play. Phil Kessel sent a pass from the right wing to the left circle for Tyler Bozak, who dished it down low where Lupul re-directed it in.
Florida, though, tied it again just 23 seconds later as Matthias skated down the right wing and danced to the side of the net before banking a shot off the skate Michael Kostka and into the net.
The Leafs, though, got the lead back just over two minutes later. Bozak grabbed a loose puck at the right boards and eventually fed it to Kessel behind the net. Kessel skated to the left circle where he centered it for Lupul, who wristed it home for his sixth of the year.
"He got a goal in that first or second shift and just carried it on from there," said Toronto head coach Randy Carlyle. "They were carrying the play to us for much of the game so we had to find a way to get it done and Lupul did that for us tonight."
Scrivens stopped 13 shots in the frame to help Toronto give itself some space in the playoff chase.
The only goal of the first period went to Florida as Fleischmann's shot from the top of the right circle hit off the leg of a Leaf and went into the net at the 6:39 mark.
In the second period, the Maple Leafs were the only ones to get on the board after Phaneuf's blast from the right circle found its way into the left corner near the midway mark of the frame.
Toronto hosts Carolina on Thursday ... Florida returns home to face Buffalo on Thursday ... Toronto took a 3-0 win in Florida on Feb. 18 ... Toronto was 1- for-3 on the power play while Florida went 0-for-1.