Leafs blow a two goal lead and lose their spot in the Atlantic division playoff picture
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Monday, February 3, 2020
Final Score, Toronto Maple Leafs 3 - Florida Panthers 5
Toronto, ON - Frederik Anderson got the start for the Leafs and left after the first period. Michael Hutchinson in relief allowed three goals on just 13 shots. He was opposed by Sergei Bobrovsky who paced his team with 31 saves. The Toronto Maple Leafs choked away a two goal lead before losing 5-3 to the Florida Panthers. With the win Florida leapfrogged Toronto for third in the Atlantic division.
The only difference between these teams records before the game was Toronto’s two extra overtime losses. Kasperi Kananen was back in the lineup after getting benched on Saturday night for being late to practice. The first period started with some dominant Leafs defence. The Panthers didn’t get their first shot on Anderson until halfway through the first.
It was their second shot that was excellent. Mike Matheson cut below the right circle and went right outfront to Mark Pysyk and he made no mistake beating Anderson far side for the first goal of the game.
Then things looked to get worse. John Tavares took a high sticking penalty so the Leafs went to the penalty kill. The Florida powerplay ended with a few decent attempts but nothing too scary. The Leafs came into the contest with five straight games without allowing a powerplay goal against.
At the end of one Toronto trailed one to nothing to Florida. The Leafs led the shots 15-8. The Panthers were using the body with 12 first period hits. Hutchinson replaced Anderson to start the second after he didn't return. The team said he had an upper body injury.
Toronto had a great chance to start the period following a tripping penalty by Matheson just over two minutes in. It was the captain on the powerplay who tied it. Mitch Marner put it right outfront to Tavares who tipped it high by Bobrovsky for the Leafs first goal of the game.
The Leafs were dominating the puck in the second again. They allowed just three shots on Hutchinson.
Jason Spezza drew a trip on 8 with three minutes left in the period. The Leafs looked good on their second chance with the extra man. William Nylander took a pass at the side of the net and cut right outfront but was robbed by Bobrovsky’s glove. With the powerplay expiring Nylander got another chance. It looked alot like Tavares’ goal with him camped out front. He tipped the pass from Kapanen right by Bobrovsky. Now eight powerplay goals in the Leafs last seven games.
The period ended with a Leaf penalty. The faceoffs were deadlocked at 14 a piece going to the final period.
A very quick start to the third with Austin Matthews scoring to take a three to one lead. Unfortunately for the Leafs Pysyk's second goal was less than two minutes later cutting it to just one. It was a bad rebound that he tapped by Hutchinson.
The game was tied at three on a Florida powerplay. Just :58 seconds after their second goal Jonathan Huberdeau scored his 19th of the year. That snapped the Leafs special teams streak.
A chance for Toronto to respond on a powerplay of their own. Matthews put on off the bar with a wide open net. Bobrovsky had fallen trying to recover on the cross crease but the Leafs young superstar didn’t make him pay.
A misplay helped the Panthers take the lead. Aaron Ekblad shot it behind the net and it bounced around to Mike Hoffman. Cody Ceci looked lost and didn’t put a body on Hoffman who easily beat Hutchinson to take the lead. Three goals for Florida in just under eight minutes.
Toronto didn’t pull Hutchinson until 1:30 left in the game. Marner turned it over at his own blueline. Pysyk got his first NHL hat trick despite being tripped before tucking it into the empty net.
That would be the final. The Leafs now drop into a wildcard position.
Next up, Wednesday, Feb 5, in New York against the Rangers who have struggled this season and are second from the bottom in the Metropolitan division.