By Steve Gorten
4:48 PM EDT, March 25, 2013
Panthers defenseman Erik Gudbranson, who has sat out the past two games because of the flu, didn't look or feel any better Monday.
What's worse, several of his teammates were also feeling under the weather, Coach Kevin Dineen said. For that reason, and the team's ongoing injury issues, Dineen decided to cancel Monday's scheduled practice in Toronto.
Instead, players did an off-ice workout and were told to take it easy before Tuesday's game against the Maple Leafs -- the last of this season-long five-game trip which started last Tuesday at Carolina.
"We were going to go to the rink, but I felt it was better given our health situation just to hang close here and use it as a rest day," Dineen said.
--- Happy to play at home: Center Shawn Matthias, who's from the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, said he bought 20 tickets for friends and family when the Panthers played here last year. He said he won't have as large of a cheering section Tuesday night, but his family will be there again.
"It's always nice to be home and play in front of the hometown," Matthias said. "Everyone's watching, so you can't play bad."
He added that he'll be extra charged up to play at Air Canada Centre, against the team he grew up rooting for.
"You get a little nervous, but I enjoy it. It's fun to see familar faces in the crowd."
It'll also be a homecoming of sorts for defenseman Brian Campbell, who hails from Strathroy, about 140 miles away. Panthers assistant coaches Gord Murphy (Willowdale) and Craig Ramsay (Weston) also are Ontario natives.
--- Injury update: Forward George Parros (upper body) won't be available to return until Saturday's home game against the Devils at the earliest, Dineen said. Parros has been a scratch the past four games. Dineen said his injury is a strain.
--- 'Cats looking to cash in: Despite losing to the Maple Leafs 3-0 Feb. 18 in Sunrise in the first meeting between the teams this season, the Panthers have earned points in 16 of their past 20 games against the Leafs, going 13-4-3 during that span. They swept the season series last season.
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