Leafs once again lose to Panthers in overtime

By: Neil Becker

It was deju vu all over again for the Toronto Maple Leafs who dropped a thrilling 3-2 overtime decision in Sunrise to the Atlantic Division leading Florida Panthers.

Silimilar to early April when the Leafs came to town and built up a 5-1 lead halfway through only to end up losing 7-6 in overtime, a similar scenario played out on Saturday night.

Playing on Hockey Night In Canada, Toronto, who were looking to bounce back after an embarrassing Thursday night  8-1 loss in Tampa Bay, were in good shape early as they held a 2-0 lead before things went south.

Toronto scored on their first shot when defenceman T.J. Brodie shot the puck in the Panthers end along the boards which bounced out to Mitch Marner who at 3:25 of the first hammered his 35th goal of the year for a 1-0 lead. 

The Leafs, who had star forward Auston Matthews back in the line-up scored a big insurance goal when with less than three minutes left in the first, defenceman Justin Holl's shot bounced off Panthers defenceman Radko Gudas skate and past goalie Sergei Bobrovsky for his career high third goal of the season.

Heading into the second with a 2-0 lead, the Leafs looked to be in good shape to rebound from the Tampa Bay loss.

Florida registered 16 second period shots and just like that early April game in Sunrise, mounted a comeback to force overtime.

Starting things off for Florida was their captain Aleksander Barkov who following an impressive solo rush from teammate Mason Marchment wristed home at the 6:26 mark of the second his 39th goal to make it a one-goal game.

With a little over five minutes remaining in the second period Florida squared things up when forward Claude Giroux scored his 21st goal on a power play.

Following a scoreless third period these teams went into what would be a nerve wracking overtime.

Both teams had several quality chances before Panthers defenceman Brandon Montour on a nice feed from Marchment scored the winner at 2:26 to set off an enthusiastic celebration.

Montour who was racing to the net poked home the puck before Leafs goalie Jack Campbell could get it with the poke check.

The Panthers who sit on top of the Atlantic Division have now extended their home winning streak to a franchise record of 13 games.

Meanwhile Matthews came back from injury and logged 21:40 of ice time where he had seven shots on goal and was a +1.

On a down note the Leafs Michael Bunting, who has had a solid year of 23 goals and 63 points was injured in the game and didn't return. 

The Leafs will be in action on Sunday where faceoff time is 7 p.m. at Capital One Arena against the Washington Capitals.  



     1ST. Period                                   TOR-   FLA

     3:25 Mitch Marner (35)                    1   -    0

     T.J. Brodie (23), Morgan Rielly (56)


    17:20 Justin Holl (3)                         2  -     0

    David Kampf (15), T.J. Brodie (24)


   2nd. Period                                    TOR -  FLA

  6:26 Aleksander Barkov (39)               2 -       1

  Mason Marchment (28), Claude Giroux (40)


 14:54 PPG- Claude Giroux (21)             2   -    2

 Jonathan Huberdeau (84), Aleksander Barkov (49)


 OT Period

2:26 Brandon Montour 10                     2   -     3

Mason Marchment (29), Claude Giroux (41)