The Toronto Maple Leafs waited until the end of the season to get their games against the Eastern Conference leading  Florida Panthers. On March 27th they defeated the, 5-2 at home, and now they make their first trip to an area near but not in Miami, to play the Panthers in their home. That win also began a five game win streak that saw the Leafs beat the Panthers, Bruins, Jets*, Flyers, and Lightning. Most of them teams that should have given the Leafs a challenge, but the closet game was against the Bruins which the Leafs won 6-4.

The Leafs come out strong against a team that is supposed to be an obstacle in their path (this is also what has been said about Tampa, who the Leafs easily defeated last night and get a shot on net right off the opening face off. Then, no one covers Ilya Mikheyev and he comes in along on Sergei Bobrovsky and almost opens scoring as well.

The Leafs give up their offensive advantage when TJ Brodie is called for hooking, and the Panthers get a power play. While the Maple Leafs penalty kill has been performing well as of late, it’s no match for the Panthers power play who quickly score to take the lead 1-0.

The Panthers get motivated by this goal and turn on the offense, putting shot after shot on Erik Källgren, but they don’t add to the score. The Leafs get lucky on a couple shots as Källgren is far, far, out of the net.

The Leafs get their first powerplay of the game when Ryan Lomberg interferes with John Tavares, and the power play is getting plenty of chances and time to set up shots on Bobrovsky, but Bob isn’t giving anything up tonight. Both teams get one shot on goal but it’s still 1-0 Florida.

The Panthers flurry of offense continues as the crash the net and make some nice three way passes to get shots off. The Leafs don’t get down the other end of the ice as much, but they’re pushing to tie the game just as hard.

The Leafs get another chance with the man advantage when Brandon Montour is called for tripping Colin Blackwell, which leads to a scrum but only the one penalty is handed out.

While the Leafs didn’t score last chance the second time is the charm it seems, as the first power play unit sets up William Nylander who scores quickly to make it 1-1.

The Maple Leafs almost take the lead off a bouncing puck but Bobrovsky makes a miracle happen to keep it out and we’re still tied as the clock ticks down.

With less than two minutes to go Mark Giordano gets called for holding, and the Panthers get their second power play of the game. Källgren stands tall in net and the period ends tied.

The second begins with a 30 second power play for the Panthers and with one second left, Mitch Marner scores short handed to put the Leafs in the lead 2-1.

Not satisfied with just a shorthanded goal, 37 seconds after the shortie, Mitch Marner scores a power play goal after Ben Chiarot is sent to the box.

3-1 Toronto.

Heck, why not an even strength goal too? From Colin Blackwell? Sure, why not?

4-1 Toronto.

Sergei Bobrovsky gets the hook after giving up three goals in the first two minutes of the second period. Spencer Knight takes the net.

The Panthers try to get a goal again, but the Leafs defense isn’t making it easy for them, and  Erik Källgren is also being a pain in the bottom for the Panthers. So much that they try to decapitate him.

Jake Muzzin! First game back! 5-1 Leafs!

Mason Marchment is a step ahead of TJ Brodie after the face off, and before he can shoot Brodie hooks him down. Thankfully it’s not a penalty shot, just another Panthers power play.

It doesn’t last very long as Mackenzie Weegar just hauls down Mitch Marner, and it’s 1:30 of four on four.

TJ Brodie almost scores on a power play break away, and then, hey, guess what? The Leafs get a too many men penalty. These guys are just so excited to play, but you gotta pay more attention.

This power play works for the Panthers, as they quickly get a rebound up over Källgren’s shoulder. 5-2 Leafs.

Mason Marchment gets called for tripping in a postwhistle scrum. TJ Brodie tossed Carter Verheaghes stick aside, and Marchment took exception with that, so he tripped Brodie. The Maple Leafs get another power play.

The Panthers score an ugly shorthanded goal, when Radko Gudas (?) shoots from the top of the circle, and makes it 5-3 Panthers.

William Nylander ends the Leafs powerplay by hauling down Jonathan Huberdeau as he gets behind the Leafs defence.

Ilya Mikheyev gets in alone to the Panthers ends, but Spencer Knight makes the save. The four on four we have it very quick, lots of back and forth. The Panthers see themselves back in the game after those two goals.

After he makes a save on Robert Hagg, Erik Källgren winces and pulls his helmet off. After meeting with the trainer, he leaves for the bench and Jack Campbell comes in. He makes a quick glove save off the faceoff, but Claude Giroux scores his first as a Panther after a cross crease pass. 5-4 Toronto.

After a whistle Bunting and Gudas get into it a bit in front of the Leafs bench and they each get offsetting roughing minors, and the final 90 seconds of the second will be four on four.

Seven goals scored in the second period, and after forty minutes, the Leafs lead 5-4.

The four on four ends without a goal, and Campbell gets a bit of a work out at even strength. Kyle Clifford is called for slashing and the Panthers score on their early in the third power play, to tie the game at fives.

That goal made Jonathan Huberdeau the first Panther to have a 100 point season.

The Panthers don’t let up after they tie the game, and hammer the Leafs while controlling play. Jack Campbell makes lots of saves, but can’t stop Aleksander Barkov  from scoring the Panthers sixth goal of the game, and Florida takes the lead.

Halfway through the period the Leafs are down one, but Bunting-Matthews-Marner pepper Knight with shots and almost come close to tying the game, but it seems to be a lot harder to score against Knight than Bobrovsky.

The Leafs get a better chance to tie things up when the Panthers are called for too many men, so it’s nice to be on the other side of that penalty for once.

What isn’t nice is that the Panthers penalty kill dominates the two minutes, getting some shorthanded chances and clogging the slot to keep the Leafs from setting up any good plays.

Post-penalty Pierre Engvall gets a breakaway chance on Knight, but is hooked down by Robert Hagg, and the power play gets yet another chance.

The Leafs play this power play a lot better than the last, taking time to set up, and the Panthers aren’t as defensive. It pays off when Nylander passes to Tavares who ties the game at sixes!

Jack Campbell is made to make some desperation saves as the Panthers pound the Leafs in the final minutes. Campbell makes the needed saves and the fame goes to overtime.

The Panthers control the first minute of three on three, almost getting a wraparound goal against Campbell, but after a Florida hand pass, the play is whistled dead.

Tavares and Nylander come close to ending the game, but can’t get it past Knight. The Panthers come back, but Campbell makes the save. Back to the other end where Tavares almost does the deed, then Sam Bennet comes close to scoring for Florida.

This overtime is something.

The Leafs do a good job clearing their zone, but the Panthers keep coming back and back, and it finally clicks when Huberdeau scores to end the game after a nice play with Barkov.

Final score: Florida Panthers 7 - Toronto Maple Leafs 6 in overtime.

The Maple Leafs played well for the first half of the game, then the Panthers took over. I don’t know if Florida played it slow on purpose to start, or just took advantage of a Leafs team that played another highly ranked team last night.

It wasn’t so much that the Leafs collapsed - though their play did change after that fifth goal - but the Panthers turned on extra offense in the second half of the game.

The Maple Leafs have tomorrow off, then they head to Dallas to take on the Stars at 8:30 our time.

Really don’t like seeing such a huge lead blown, but a high scoring game like this is what we expected from the Panthers.

See you all on Thursday!