Earlier today in the pregame post, I talked about how Florida wasn’t that dangerous a team. Heading into tonight’s matchup against the Leafs, the Panthers had scored the second fewest goals in the NHL, and were just slightly above average in preventing goals against. They should have been a team the Leafs could handle, but couldn’t be taken lightly. They’ve got enough talent to burn you.
The Leafs were outshot by a count of 35-to-17 and squandered a two-goal, third period lead, losing by a score of 6-4 in regulation. Pretty standard Toronto Maple Leafs fare, really.
While the first period saw no goals scored, the Panthers pretty thoroughly outworked the Leafs, outshooting them 13-3 in the opening twenty minutes.
Somehow, the Leafs would get on the board first. Just over six minutes into the second period, Richard Panik would open the scoring, sending a nice shot short-side past Roberto Luongo. Within four minutes, goals from Jonathan Huberdeau and Jimmy Hayes (whom the Leafs traded away for the opportunity to draft Brad Ross in 2010) put the Panthers ahead 2-1.
Toronto would respond right back with three straight goals from Roman Polak, James van Riemsdyk and Nazem Kadri. A total of six goals would be scored in the second frame, and the Leafs would carry a 4-2 lead into the second intermission.
That’s about when everything went to hell. It seemed like point shot after point shot found its way past James Reimer. The Panthers would score four straight goals, from Dmitry Kulikov, Willie Mitchell, Brad Boyes and Scottie Upshall (into an empty net). Reimer, who was appeared to be both bad and unlucky, would give up five goals on 34 shots and finish the game with an .853 SV%.
Man, do I have to pick one? I’m tempted to say Richard Panik because he didn’t factor at all into the Leafs’ collapse. He also scored a pretty goal and was +1 in just over seven minutes of icetime.
Screw it. Honourable mentions to both Joffrey Lupul and JVR, but nobody wearing a blue and white jersey was all that impressive tonight. Long live Panik.
See You In Tampa
The Leafs are back at it tomorrow, facing off against Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Watch it at 7:30pm on Sportsnet, and see if Christopher Gibson starts his first career NHL game. After tonight’s performance, and if Bernier is still sidelined, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise.