A Lyon Keeps The Cats Playoff Hopes Alive With 3-2 OT Victory Over The Leafs

Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images
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The Leafs were back in action for the first time since Sunday when they picked up a 3-2 win over the Nashville Predators. It’s a quick stop at home before heading back out on the road for a tilt with the Ottawa Senators Saturday night. Goaltender Ilya Samsonov rejoined the team after his wife gave birth to a healthy baby boy last week. 

The Panthers wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as Anton Lundell ripped one past Samsonov at exactly the one minute mark. Coincidental minors were called against Wayne Simmonds and Radko Gudas at 1:54, resulting in some four-on-four hockey. After a sluggish start in this one, the Leafs bounced back with a couple of consecutive shifts spent in the offensive zone, but they were still looking for the tying goal. The Leafs were awarded the game’s first power play as Josh Mahura was called for cross-checking Mitch Marner in front of the Panthers goal. The penalty killers for the Panthers did a great job holding the Leafs to just a single shot with the man advantage. With 6:46 remaining in the opening frame, Ryan Lomberg’s speed was on full display as he busted through the neutral zone to generate a breakaway. Luckily for the Leafs, Samsonov came up with a very timely save to keep it a one goal game. Alex Lyon was like a fish out of water as Liljegren let a shot fly from the point, and the rebound landed in the slot. To his credit, he somehow managed to keep the puck out. With 2:16 to go, Mitch Marner was called for tripping Carter Verhaeghe, giving the Panthers their first power play of the night. The Leafs penalty killers did a fantastic job killing off the man advantage. The first period would come to an end with the Leafs holding a 15-7 advantage in shots. TOI leader for the Leafs was Auston Matthews with 7:58. 

The Leafs finally solved Alex Lyon as Zach Aston-Reese tipped his eighth of the year past the Panthers netminder to tie the game 1-1. The assists went to TJ Brodie and Wayne Simmonds. It looked like the Leafs had taken a 2-1 lead, but Paul Maurice challenged it for being offside. During the challenge, Maurice lost his mind at his team because of their subpar play thus far. With 15:40 remaining in the middle frame, Lomberg was called for interference as he laid a very late hit on Morgan Rielly. As a result of the hit, the Leafs were given their second power play of the game. Once again, the power play was very ineffective for the Leafs as they were unable to strike with the man advantage. Much credit to the Leafs, as the Panthers went 10:24 without registering a single shot on goal. Halfway through the game, they only had eight shots on goal, simply not good enough for a team fighting for their playoff lives. With 8:27 remaining in the second period, Zach Aston-Reese was sprung on a breakaway and slashed on the hands, resulting in a penalty shot for the Leafs fourth liner! It was the first penalty shot of Aston-Reese’s career, but Alex Lyon shut the door to keep it a 1-1 game. Literally seconds after the penalty shot, Alex Kerfoot was called for slashing the stick out of Matthew Tkachuk’s hands. In the dying seconds of the man advantage, Samsonov made a beautiful save on Verhaeghe with his left pad. Other than giving up that shot on goal, the Leafs penalty killers did another fantastic job.

At the 15:40 mark of the period, Carter Verhaeghe was called for … holding William Nylander. The ref’s arm didn’t go up until Nylander stepped on a loose stick on the ice. It should have absolutely not been a penalty. Nevertheless, the Leafs were heading back to the power play for the third time tonight. Once again, they came up empty-handed with the man advantage. With 6.4 seconds remaining in the frame, the Leafs got their fourth power play as Aaron Ekblad was called for interference. 1:53 of the power play would roll over to start the third period. Shots on goal in the second period were 15-11 in favor of the Leafs, they also held a 29-18 advantage overall. TOI leader after 40 minutes of play was Auston Matthews with 15:54. 

The Leafs power play came up empty-handed for the fourth time tonight as the Panthers did a great job once again with the penalty kill to start the third period. After the power play, both teams traded chances back and forth, but credit to both goaltenders who stood tall and kept the door shut at both ends of the rink. With 13:20 remaining in the period, Auston Matthews finally broke through to give the Leafs a 2-1 lead. He managed to get himself open in the slot and let a one-timer from Mitch Marner rip past Lyon for his 37th goal of the year. At the 12:15 minute mark, Mitch Marner was called for high sticking, sending the Panthers to the power play. Another key penalty kill for the Leafs as they kept their 2-1 lead intact. Luke Schenn made a great outlet pass to spring Marner all alone as he got out of the box. He made a move and had Lyon beat, but he couldn’t beat the post. The Panthers went the other way, and Samsonov came up with another timely save for the Leafs. With 2:20 to go, Mark Giordano took a hooking minor to prevent a tap-in for Verhaeghe and deny the game-tying goal. With 58.5 seconds remaining in regulation, Ekblad let a shot fly from the point that Reinhart tipped to tie the game up 2-2. The final seconds would tick off the clock, and this one would head to overtime. Shots on goal in the third period were tied 10-10. Overall, shots were 39-28 in favor of the Leafs. TOI leader after regulation was Mitch Marner with 23:57. 

The Leafs elected to start overtime with a trio of Kampf, Marner, and Brodie. Alex Lyon robbed Auston Matthews after a dominant shift from the Leafs superstar. The next shift William Nylander tried to go between the legs to create space for himself, but he ended up falling down. The Panthers quickly went the other way, and Barkov made a gorgeous saucer pass to find Montour, who made no mistake and kept the Panthers playoff hopes alive. 

Tonight’s Three Stars 

1. Brandon Montour – 1 Goal 1 Assist 

2. Alex Lyon – 38 Saves 

3. Ilya Samsonov – 26 Saves 

The Leafs are back in action on Saturday as they will be in Ottawa for a clash with the Senators! 

For more Leafs news and in-game tweets, follow me on Twitter @mikethefanatic! Also, be sure to check out The Leafs Late Night Podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts!

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