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The Toronto Maple Leafs lost 3-1 to the Florida Panthers in the Panthers home opener of the season. Mitch Marner scored the lone goal on the power play, while Kevin Stenlund, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, and Sam Reinhart (ENG) scored for the Panthers. Ilya Samsonov made 21 saves on 23 shots in the loss, while Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 29 of 30 in the win.
Three stars for the Leafs were Marner, Nylander, and Giordano. Poop emoji for Klingberg tonight.
Minten got called for tripping within the first couple shifts of the game, putting the Leafs on the kill. Since I'm talking about him here I'll mention he and Domi got caught against a couple icings and were stuck on the ice for a minute and a half, but Minten won two faceoffs against Barkov to remove the pressure – and despite one win becoming an icing by Domi – the other allowed them to get off the ice.
On that penalty kill, Samsonov made three saves, including holding his ground on with the pad and protecting the loose puck with his glove.
Auston channeled his inner Mats with a slapshot off the rush.
The refs don't call a penalty on Luostarinen for stick-butting Samsonov in the mask, so the Leafs had to scrum it out. Tavares and Gio in there.
Kevin Stenlund scored the first goal of the game after walking down from high in the zone and ripping a shot past Samsonov. He got so open because Klingberg lazily poked the puck up the boards, thinking Gregor was there to take the puck up, but Klingberg didn't recognize Gregor was stuck in the corner when the puck went up the boards the first time. The lack of awareness and lack of taking care of the puck led to the goal against.
Ekman-Larsson scored his first as a Panther with nine seconds left in the period with a lazy point shot that got through multiple layers of defense. Omar is right, this was a very sloppy goal against right at the end of a period. Bertuzzi loafed on attacking the shooter. He, Matthews, and McCabe were just trying to ride out the clock rather than win the puck and control the last seconds of the period.
This is the first game of the season where I'm really paying attention to each shift – recapping is a great exercise in that – and I'm starting to feel like Domi and Klingberg were mistakes as signings.
Domi is the anti-Zach Hyman, he wins no battles, he doesn't put the puck in positive positions, he doesn't make plays for his teammates. He's the soft player everyone thinks Nylander is – or before him Kessel.
Klingberg can pass a puck, so in that way he's a little better than Tyson Barrie, but he is completely out of his element defensively. On the first goal against in the first, all he could do was poke at the puck, which sent it around the boards to the guy who shot and scored. He doesn't use his body effectively, he doesn't make plays to get out of the defensive zone, and as a result is always getting beat without the puck. But hey, he looks tall when walking the blueline compared to Rielly who hunches over and he can shoot at 3%!
The Leafs got their first power play of the game early in the second, and they would get many interrupted power play minutes elsewhere in the period as well. Matthews got a pair of half chances off the rush or at the side of the net, but he was only able to be an opportunistic scorer than a command and control style.
Following the power play, Nylander hit the defender checking him from behind when he went into the corner for the puck, but he got hit down into the boards in retaliation, a classing boarding call that didn't get a whistle.
Half the period was on special teams so the Leafs finally got their power play a result with Marner banging home the rebound from a point shot by Tavares. The Leafs moved around a lot on that power play to put it mildly.
Knies got penalised for getting run into by Rodrigues, putting the Leafs to the penalty kill. But after a great effort play by Järnkrok to battle the puck out of the defensive zone, Matthews drew a penalty on the same Rodrigues to even out the calls. Sort of felt like that was a makeup call, but Matthews was a beast. I also love Marner screaming in the background to send the puck back to safety while Matthews was driving hard to the net on his own.
Despite the positivity that was the goal, the Leafs newcomers went back to doing what they do best. Being useful.
On net, it was a good period for the Leafs. They got themselves out of penalty trouble, their best players were looking dangerous, and their worst players didn't cough up any more goals. They pulled within one goal on the power play with Marner and out-shot the Panthers 13-5 over only nine minutes at 5v5.
Since this play technically happened after the period ended, here's Knies' chance and the puck scramble after the horn blew.
Most of the third was relatively benign. Both sides had chances, but no one team dominated possession. Tkachuk continued to avoid the referees eyes as he harassed Samsonov.
Samsonov got pulled from the net with two minutes left in the third, the Leafs took a timeout and Guy Boucher drew up a play with 90 seconds left in regulation.
Tavares had a huge chance at the side of the net from Nylander and Marner. Tavares got two chances on Bobrovsky, the first one without the goalie knowing but the second he squeezed the open space.
Barkov tripped up Nylander on the ensuing faceoff, giving the Leafs a 6v4 with Barkov in the box. Rielly the extra guy on the power play unit.
Nylander controlled the shift, but after multiple chances a point shot by Klingberg got blocked and the puck eventually got into the empty net.
Panthers win their home opener with the empty net at the horn.
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