Leafs Postgame: Retiring Florida

Toronto had Florida come to them tonight instead of Canadians flying south tonight, as the Leafs did on Saturday night when they lost to these Florida Panthers in overtime.

Tonight, they were looking for a stronger effort to get the two points, but were without two of their mainstays: Zach Hyman (injury) and Igor Ozhiganov (illness).

Frederik Andersen started for the Maple Leafs and Roberto Luongo started for the Panthers.

Let’s see how it went with gifs and discussion below!

1st period

The first third of the game was a strong start for the Panthers, who had an advantage in chances in the early-goings to be sure.

After narrowly avoiding a too-many-men penalty, the Leafs got a decent break as Mitch Marner carried into the zone and got a shooting chance in the slot, but was denied by a great glove save by Luongo.

The Leafs seemed to really get their legs at this point, about half way through the period. Their speed went up a notch, notably, and the 4th line had a great cycle game against the Panthers’ top pairing of Yandle and Ekblad.

The best unconverted chance of the period came from Connor Brown, elevated in Zach Hyman’s absence to the Matthews-Nylander line, had this great pass to Nylander right in front of the net that Nylander just missed on.

Not long after would see the best, and only, converted chance of the period, with the Leafs on the powerplay. A great feed from Mitch Marner found a wide-open Auston Matthews who buries the puck behind Luongo to make it 1-0 Leafs.

The period ended that way, the Leafs leading 1-0 on the scoresheet, and 10-9 on the shot clock (29-15 in 5-on-5 shot attempts).

2nd period

The Leafs continued their overall outplaying of the Panthers into the second period. Matthews was able to beat Luongo on another great pass from Marner to make it 2-0:

This chance for the Leafs on the powerplay in the first half of the second looked like a good goal, but was ultimately overruled as a kicking motion:

Kadri would get his due though, as the Leafs broke on a great breakout pass from Morgan Rielly to Connor Brown, who found Kadri in front to bury this one, using his stick this time.

The Leafs had to kill a couple penalties in this period but held the door shut, thanks to some great shorthanded work by Mitch Marner and Connor Brown, and that kept the Leafs up 3-0 to end the period.

3rd period

Once again the dominance continued into this final frame of the game, as an early chance for the Leafs on the powerplay was finished by John Tavares:

Some deliberation ensued after the goal, as the Florida bench looked like they wanted to challenge…. something. Unfortunately for them, the rules didn’t allow what they seemed to want to challenge (that the puck went out of play), so the goal counted.

Not long after, the Leafs chased Roberto Luongo after allowing a fifth goal, on this great rush play by Marner and Tavares. The Leafs two centers each scored two goals in this game; what a great luxury it is to have two #1 centers. I can now know what the likes of Pittsburgh and Washington and LA have felt for years, and it feels pretty good.

The Panthers brought out James Reimer, the former Leaf and fan favourite for a number of years in Toronto. He earned himself a nice, loud cheer from the stands as the fans appreciated the history Reimer had with this team.

Unfortunately, the potential shutout was ruined by the Panthers on a great offensive play. Henrik Borgstrom drives the net in front of a great screen by Frank Vatrano. That made it 5-1 for the Leafs:

Then the Maple Leafs would get that one back, as they had another powerplay chance and Mitch Marner, trying to find either Matthews or Tavares for the hat trick, had it bounce into the net instead for a goal for himself. That made it 6-1 Leafs:

The fans actually thought Tavares got it, and were thrown hats onto the ice in the name of a hat trick that never was.

The game ended there, on a dominant score of 6-1 for the Maple Leafs.

Final Thoughts

The Leafs were clearly on fire tonight; putting 6 in the net is a great accomplishment for any team.

The Leafs were able to contain the Barkov line with ferocity, including some solid penalty killing. Their offense was dominant as well, and converted on a number of powerplay chances at the other end.

My three stars of the night:

  1. Auston Matthews
  2. Mitch Marner
  3. Morgan Rielly

The Leafs play next on Saturday against the New York Rangers, at 7pm Eastern. See you there, and go Leafs go!

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