The Maple Leafs were ahead of the game already tonight since they weren’t let loose into the wilds of Florida yesterday and they got another bonus when it was announced that Alexander Barkov wouldn’t play in tonight’s game.
The Leafs and Panthers both came out strong to start the game, with some excellent back and forth play - nothing too scary against the Leafs, and the offense wasn’t burning all of it’s fuel right off the hop. The exception there was William Nylander, who was going all out to start the game. It’s a fun, steady start to the game, and there wasn’t a whistle for the first six minutes. Hits, kicks, and more. A great start.
Mitch Marner takes the hit to make the play pic.twitter.com/pMvg6zHhDW— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 4, 2020
Also worth nothing, that the Panthers didn’t register a shot in the first half of the period.
The Leafs are Globetrottering in their own defensive end, just passing the puck around, teasing the Panthers, then to rub salt in the wound, Cody Ceci almost scores.
Kapanen's speed results in a shot on net for Cody Ceci pic.twitter.com/V8cR0YN7c1— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 4, 2020
The Leafs keep on teasing the Panthers, but Sergei Bobrovsky decides to play like a $10,000,000 goalie tonight of all nights.
Nice movement from the Engvall line with Andreas Johnsson getting the final set of looks on Bobrovsky pic.twitter.com/zXIAyDQtfI— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 4, 2020
Of course, the Panthers get a chance and they score.
We all knew it was coming, but some of us got too cocky and got our comeuppance.
Then John Tavares lifts Dominic Toninato’s (Leafs 2012 5th round pick) stick and smacks him in the face with his own stick, and gets called for high sticking.
John Tavares has to sit because Toninato gets his own stick in his face pic.twitter.com/VW0X16ZIw0— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 4, 2020
The Leafs PK does a good job of clogging the slot, forcing the shots to the point, but are letting the shooter have a clear view of Freddie from there.
Andersen is on top of his game on this PK though, making big save after big save to keep this at a one goal game.
The penalty is killed, the 11th straight by the Leafs, and they resume controlling the game at even strength. The Panthers have caught up to the Leafs in shots now. Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews skate into the offensive zone and kick off a string of shots and rebounds that really test Bobrovsky, but none go in.
Crazy sequence for the Matthews line pic.twitter.com/lnfc7CEZLV— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 4, 2020
Matthews and Marner do these one-touch passes a lot pic.twitter.com/zTcMEM0KSs— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 4, 2020
The Panthers turn things around and streak into the Leafs zone, but Cody Ceci keeps pace and helps prevent a decent shot from getting to Andersen who makes the save.
There’s a scary moment when Jake Muzzin lightly touches Frank Vatrano so Vatrano dives right into Andersen, knocking the net loose and having Andersen lie still for just long enough for everyone to have a small panic attack. Everybody’s OK, the face off happens outside the blue line.
Collision with Freddie Andersen. Not good but Muzzin nudged it along pic.twitter.com/DZmeDQ3uAY— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 4, 2020
The first period ends with the Panthers leading the Leafs 1-0.
GOOD NEWS EVERYONE!
Michael Hutchinson will start in goal for the 2nd period. Frederik Andersen is being examined and his status will be updated shortly.— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) February 4, 2020
ACTUAL GOOD NEWS EVERYONE!
Noted slumping player (according to TSN) John Tavares scored to tie the game at one a piece, with the assist from Mitch Marner.
The Maple Leafs continue to put offensive pressure on the Panthers, with Nylander and Kerfoot notably getting the puck into the Panthers end, but no one is able to get a decent shot on Bobrovsky, everything is screened, or blocked, or just flailing around the net.
The Maple Leafs go to take their revenge against the Panthers and get the crowd on their feet a few times, but nothing is getting through the Panthers defense/Bobrovsky. Once again the Leafs are dominating the shots (9-2 in the first half of the second), but the score remains tied.
Nylander dekes around the opposition and a teammate pic.twitter.com/NUIdfxgr9a— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 4, 2020
This game is going from being fun watching the Leafs just dummy the Panthers in possession to being incredibly frustrating at the fact this game isn’t 8-0.
The Maple Leafs get a bonus chance when Jayce Hawryluk gets called for slashing Jason Spezza. The power play is getting into formation well, but the Panthers are blocking the shots and Bobrovsky is flopping around like a fish on a dock and keeping the puck out of the net.
As the power play ends the Maple Leafs finally get another goal when Kasperi Kapanen feeds William Nylander who gets his 25th of the season.
The second period ends with the Maple Leafs leading 2-1, which, fine, I guess, but like. It should be more.
The third period gives us what we’ve been expecting all night, and that’s a quick goal against the Panthers as Mitch Marner gets the play going and Auston Matthews goes five hole to extended the lead to two:
As the rules go, we can’t have nice things and the Panthers get one right back:
Mark Pysyk scores his second of the game, on a different goalie. How may players can say they’ve done that?
Mitch Marner is called for hooking Vincent Trochek, so the Panthers get another chance on the power play and they score halfway through typing that sentence. Seven second son this power play.
Tie game at 3 each with 16 minutes remaining.
Marner not pleased as he skates out of the box pic.twitter.com/zr8XE5civj— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 4, 2020
The Leafs dominance has faded in the third period after the Marner goal; they’re getting good chances, but the Panthers have taken over the majority of the shots.
Unbelievable save by Bobrovsky on Pierre Engvall pic.twitter.com/QyxOCXoph3— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 4, 2020
The refs arm goes up, and the Leafs get some extended 6 on 5 time as Michael Hutchinson goes to the bench and the Panthers can’t touch the puck. There’s a bit of a nervous play in front of the Leafs empty bet as Nylander passes across the goddamn crease but we’re spared an embarrassing own goal. Eventually the Panthers touch the puck and play is blown dead as Mike Hoffman is called for tripping.
The Panthers do a good (bad?) job of keeping the Maple Leaf from scoring on the power play early on, but the Leafs get the fans on their feet a few times, but nothing gets past Bobrovsky once again, and the power play ends.
Matthews with a chance to get number 38 but he rings it off the post pic.twitter.com/fH8Qp0lMCE— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 4, 2020
The Florida Panthers score their third straight goal (on 7 shots), as Mike Hoffman gets a pinball goal through Hutchinson’s pads to give the Panthers the lead.
The Leafs spend about two minutes just hanging out behind their net, skating in a circle to the back of the net, waiting, waiting, waiting, make a stretch pass annnnd...miss the pass. It was great.
Tyson Barrie tries to score with a slap shot from the point, then after the resulting face off the Leafs almost tie it again, but Bobrovsky is on top of his game tonight. Nice timing, Bob.
The Leafs pull Hutchinson with a minute and a half left, but Mark Pysyk scores on the empty net after a Mitch Marner blunder at the blue line, giving him a hat trick on the night, and a goal against both goalies and the empty net.
A win was desperately needed for the Leafs if they wanted to make headway against the Atlantic division standings. They started the game with all the power and control in the game, but couldn’t get the puck past Bobrovsky, couldn’t get over losing their starter, and gave up the third period.
The Leafs lost 5-3, and fell out of a playoff spot.
The next game is Wednesday night in New York against the Rangers.