The Leafs completed their Floridian back-to-back Friday night and it did not go according to plan.
Through some extremely rough stretches in this game, the Leafs looked dead for most of the game. Especially after dominating the best-team-in-the-league Tampa Bay Lightning just 24 hours prior, the Leafs were not the same.
Slow, sluggish, any creative adjective to describe this game works for me. The Leafs lost a lot of the number battles and it showed on the ice.
When Ron Hainsey scores your only goal, you’re in trouble – Leafs lose 3-1
After winning five straight in December, the Leafs have now lost six of their last nine games – now on pace to finish with less points than last year. So things are going grrrrrreeeeeat.
This game certainly started with an extremely weird and positive note at least – a Ron Hainsey goal!
noted sniper ron hainsey puts the good guys up 1-0 early pic.twitter.com/kwWseyzT5R
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) January 19, 2019
After just over one hundred seconds had passed, Hainsey absolutely ripped this one past Panthers netminder Roberto Luongo. His fourth goal of the season put up the Leafs 1-0 early.
But that seemed to be the peak of the first period for the visitors, as they allowed a whole 20 shot attempts while only taking three of their own at even-strength. Absolutely no offense getting generated.
That was evident when the Leafs were caught in their own zone and from a point shot distributed by Keith Yandle, Mike Hoffman was able to level the game with a little subtle tip.
His 23rd goal of the season, San Jose Sharks legend Mike Hoffman seems to be doing alright in Sunrise.
The Panthers were not done before this period ended – about five minutes after Hoffman tied the game up, quasi WWE Superstar Mike Matheson scored on just the tenth shot on goal from either team in that period.
A neat little passing play from the Panthers and then a point shot slapper from Matheson saw the puck fly by Sparks for the Panthers to take the lead.
Damn, it’s almost like shot attempts somewhat correlate to goals.
The first period was something that the Leafs could just not recover from. Being completely dominating at even-strength, the Panthers simply scored when they should have scored and were rightfully in the lead. If they even had some puck luck, the game could have easily been heavily in their favour.
After the beginning twenty minutes, the Leafs actually won the shot attempt battle. Not to create some arbitrary border, but the Panthers had the same number of shot attempts in the last 40 minutes as the first 20. Could be score effects – the Leafs just unloading the puck since they’re only down by one – but it was certainly slightly better to watch after the first intermission.
In the second period, there was still an obvious sense of struggle. Slow to get to the pucks at times and not completely on top of their game, the Leafs certainly looked the part of a team on the second half of a road back-to-back.
Honestly, nothing incredibly of note happened that period.
The third period saw the Leafs win the shot attempt battle 13-5 at 5v5, but none of those damn pucks ended up in the back of the net.
At least we got this insane clip of Kapanen showing which team is actually in a playoff position.
kasperi kapanen is fast pic.twitter.com/8Yu8cEmKJ7
— dylan (@DylanFremlin) January 19, 2019
That was probably the best moment for the Leafs this entire game, so no wonder why it’s the only thing I really remember from the past three hours.
Panthers finish with an empty-net goal and end the suffering.
This game was not the worst score-wise the Leafs have played this season, but it was probably the worst to watch. Completely stale, this team was incredibly frustrating tonight.
The Leafs were clearly not able to play their game. Not getting the amount of scoring chances they’re used to right in front of the opposing goalie, they struggled and were just not gifted any luck with the puck.
For the Panthers, they certainly got an insane amount of touches close to Sparks. Getting right under the Leafs defensive attempts and letting those shots off in close.
Fairly evident that the Panthers rocked the Leafs’ world in the first twenty minutes and they were unable to recover. Getting a little bit better as the game went on, the game still finished in the Panthers’ favour.
This game as a whole was extremely brutal to watch, but games like these are easy to forget. At least we might finally get to see some changes to this lineup and a performance like this deems them a little more necessary than they seem.
The Leafs are back home on Sunday and are facing Auston’s home club, the Arizona Coyotes. So that might be fun or might be the death of us all.