Leafs vs. Panthers (Game 2) Three Stars

Sergei Bobrovsky in the Stanley Cup Playoffs Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

After getting goalie’d in game one by Sergei Bobrovsky, surely the Leafs were due for a bounce-back performance in game two, right? It sure looked that way in the first five minutes into the game. Unfortunately, it all went to the wayside in just 66 seconds to start the second period as the Panthers went from being down 2-1 to being up 3-2. 

Related Story: Sam Bennett Must Be Suspended For His Dirty Play On Matthew Knies

Here are tonight’s three stars:

First Star 

Sergei Bobrovsky – Bob was absolutely on the case again in this one. He gave up two goals early on, but he slammed the door shut after that. The Leafs threw everything they had at Bob, and he was stellar. Once the Panthers battled back and took the lead, it was going to take an absolute miracle to get another one past Bobrovsky. The Leafs peppered him with 15 shots in the opening frame, and he managed to stop 13 of them. He followed that up by stopping all ten he faced in the second period and all 12 he faced in the third period as well, meaning he stopped 35 of 37 shots fired his way in this one. As frustrating as it is, you have to tip your hat to both performances by Bobrovsky in both games one and two to start this series. 

Second Star 

Anton Lundell – Despite only playing 14:48, he was effective during every shift. While watching him during his junior days, I said this guy would be an absolute force at both ends of the rink once he made the jump to the NHL, and he’s absolutely living up to that. Lundell scored the first goal of the game for the Panthers in the first period to cut the Leafs lead to 2-1.

 He then assisted on what would eventually be the game-winning goal by Gustav Forsling. He was also 50% in the face of the circle, a tidy night’s work for the Panthers center. 

Third Star 

William Nylander – While Willy did not have the best first half of the game, he absolutely flipped a switch before the end of the second period and for the entire third period. He could have had a hat trick in this game but simply could not buy a goal. He played a total of 18:34 in this one and had six shots on goal; he hit the crossbar and the post as well. You could see his frustration growing as the game wore on, and he was still held off the scoresheet. 

Also worth noting in this one was the deliberate attempt to injure on multiple occasions by Panthers forward Sam Bennett. The first altercation occurred with Leafs rookie Matthew Knies behind the Panthers goal. Bennett wasn’t even given a two minute minor on the play. 

The second altercation occurred in front of the Panthers net as Michael Bunting engaged in a net-front battle with Bennett, who elected to deliberately cross-check Bunting directly in the head, which caused Bunting to drop to his knees. While down on the ice, Bennett looks around and then delivers an intense two-handed cross-check directly into the spine of Bunting. Bennett was given a two minute minor on the play, and we learned later that he was fined $5,000. Simply not good enough from the league, they are proving that suspensions are not consistent, and they make their decisions based on who’s involved. 

The Leafs will need all 18 skaters, as well as Samsonov, dialed in for game three on Sunday, and it absolutely is a must-win game for the blue and white. 

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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