The Panthers look to match their season-high winning streak at four Saturday night when they host the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs.
McLean has two goals and an assist during the Panthers’ three-game run after missing 15 games with a broken hand. He scored the eventual winner with 6:54 to go in regulation as Florida beat Southeast Division-leading Carolina 5-4 on Thursday.
“It just feels good to contribute,” said McLean, who has a goal and two assists in four career games against Toronto. “It’s hard when you’re out. You feel out of touch. It’s nice to get back here and pitch in.”
McLean’s contributions have Florida (17-16-2) in position to equal its four-game winning streak from Nov. 19-28. The Panthers’ last two victories have come by one-goal margins after beating Chicago 3-1 on Sunday.
“We’re a confident group right now,” captain Olli Jokinen said. “There’s no reason to stop now.”
Jokinen, Florida’s leader with 18 goals and 36 points, has seven goals and five assists in the last 10 games. He had a goal and an assist Thursday, giving him six goals and three assists in his last six home contests.
Jokinen has been held pointless in the last two games against the Maple Leafs (14-14-7), including a 3-2 loss at Air Canada Centre on Oct. 18. However, he has two goals in the last three meetings at Sunrise, Fla.
Tomas Vokoun, who missed the last meeting with Toronto with a sprained ankle, has a 2.34 goals-against average during Florida’s win streak. He is 2-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA in three career starts against the Leafs.
Florida has won only two of the last 10 meetings with Toronto and one of the last four at home.
The Leafs have stumbled after opening a season-high seven-game road trip with a 4-0 victory at Atlanta on Dec. 14. They’ve followed that up with three consecutive losses, including a 2-1 defeat to Tampa Bay on Thursday as Vesa Toskala allowed the deciding goal to Vincent Lecavalier with 42 seconds to play.
Toronto lost a season-high four in a row from Nov. 20-27.
“We are playing well enough to do better, but at the end of the day it’s not happening for us,” Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice said. “Our goaltending has been real good. It’s just tight when you’re not scoring.”
Toronto has been outscored 9-4 during the slide after holding a 10-1 advantage in its previous two games. The Leafs’ 105 goals are among the most in the Eastern Conference, but their 109 allowed are among the most given up in the NHL.
Toskala has started all three games of the losing streak after opening the trip with a 24-save performance against the Thrashers. He is having a difficult first season in Toronto after being acquired from San Jose in a draft-day trade, going 12-11-4 with a 2.69 GAA after posting a 26-10-1 record and a 2.35 GAA with the Sharks last season.
Mats Sundin, the Leafs’ top scorer with 16 goals and 40 points, hasn’t recorded a point during the three-game slide. Toronto’s captain had two assists in the last meeting with Florida, giving him 42 points in 46 career matchups.