After Keith Tkachuk called them soft, Panthers come from behind to stun Leafs in OT: Muzzy’s Muzings
Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
By Nick Alberga2 months ago
That’s it, that’s all for the month of March.
Brandon Montour potted the OT winner as the Florida Panthers came from behind late to edge the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on Wednesday night at Scotiabank Arena.
Thanks to Auston Matthews’ 37th of the season, the Leafs held a 2-1 lead late in regulation before Sam Reinhart tied things up on the power play with 58.5 seconds to go. Then, Montour, a Brantford native, did the honours in extra time as the Leafs fell to 6-8 in OT this season.
Despite the loss, the Leafs did notch a point to move six points ahead of the idle Lightning for second in the Atlantic Division. Additionally, they still have a game in hand on Tampa.
With Justin and Hailey Bieber in attendance, both Matthews and Mitch Marner were able to extend their point streaks to seven and 11 games, respectively. As for Papi, he now has nine goals in his past 11 outings. He’s SO back.
Meantime, in his first game since becoming a father, Ilya Samsonov made 26 stops. He’s now 18-2-3 on home ice this season. Not to be outdone, Alex Lyon was a big reason Florida walked out with two points. The 30-year-old made 38 saves.
Toronto went 0-for-4 on the power play; Florida went 1-for-4.
The Leafs, who’ve grabbed five of a possible six points against the Cats so far this season, will finish up their four-game season series with Florida in Sunrise on April 10th.
THE RESULT DOESN’T MATTER
It’s weird to say, but who cares? All in all, I think there were a lot of positives to grab from the loss. Firstly, it was great to see Ilya Samsonov back in the mix. He was solid. Additionally, Auston Matthews looked like his Hart Trophy self yet again. I’m loving this whole, ‘pacing himself for the playoffs,’ narrative. He got stronger as the game went on. Also, I think by the game, the McCabe-Brodie combo has started to emerge as Toronto’s No. 1 pairing. They’ve just been very consistent. Sure, you can circle a couple things defensively and the discipline could be better, but I thought they had a strong outing. Alex Lyon was fantastic. Onto the weekend we go.
Talk about making the most of your opportunity. In 8:27 of ice, Zach Aston-Reese scored a goal, registered five shots on goal and delivered three hits. Get that man a steak! On top of that, he could’ve popped in another goal had he not missed the net on his second period penalty shot. If you’ve been watching the games lately, these developments are nothing new. By a country mile, Aston-Reese has been playing the best hockey of his season lately. It’s always great to see a fourth line player chip in from time to time. He’s up to eight goals on the season. Looking ahead, if there’s one player who could make sense to take out of the lineup in favour of say a Matthew Knies, it’s probably Aston-Reese. That said, if he continues to play this way, it will be difficult to make that potential decision.
The more I watch this line work, the more I like them. Once again, I thought they had a really good night. I know Bunting’s been a staple with the big boys for a long time, but as long as Jarnkrok continues to play this well, you almost have to keep him in this role. Additionally, I don’t mind the prospects of pairing Bunting and Ryan O’Reilly on a line together. From a matchup standpoint, I think Toronto’s depth could end up causing Tampa some major fits. It’s funny: Everyone was getting on Sheldon Keefe for the constant line juggling. Well, if he didn’t do that, I’m not sure the chemistry would’ve formed between Jarnkrok and the Matthews/Marner combo.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT:
Another weekend, another back-to-back. On Saturday night, the Leafs will visit the Ottawa Senators on Hockey Night in Canada. Then, on Sunday night, they’ll host the Detroit Red Wings.
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