The Florida Panthers steal Game 2 of the second round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs after defeating the Maple Leafs 3-2. In a game that saw the Cats trail by two early on, the Panthers battled back, winning their fifth straight of the playoffs and leading the series 2-0. The Maple Leafs played fairly well in this one but couldn’t stop the Cats surge early in the middle frame, leading to the Cats second victory on the road.
In the first period, it was as electric of a start for the Maple Leafs as you could have asked! The blue and white scored not once but twice in just over the game’s first five minutes. Opening the scoring was Alexander Kerfoot, who scored his second of the postseason. Around three minutes later, Leafs trade deadline acquisition Ryan O’Reilly scored his third goal of the playoffs on the power play. After the Maple Leafs went up by two, the Florida Panthers battled back, scoring a goal of their own. Just over halfway through the first, Cats forward Anton Lundell buried a beautiful pass from Sam Reinhardt, who was below the goal. Once the Panthers scored, play started to even out a lot more, but neither side could score one more before the intermission. The Leafs were up 2-1 going into the second period.
In the middle frame of this one, it was the exact opposite of what happened in the first. The Florida Panthers came out blazing, scoring two early goals of their own to take a 3-2 lead. The first Cats second period goal was from star Aleksander Barkov, who fired a wrist shot on the rush that beat Ilya Samsonov glove side. Once the Cats tied the game, an Auston Matthews turnover led to a Florida Panthers scoring chance as defenseman Gustav Forsling scored his second of the playoffs. After the Cats dominant start, the crowd at Scotiabank Arena was stunned, and the Maple Leafs were in trouble. After finding their rhythm midway through the period, the Leafs tried to tie the game late, but Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was locked in. The 34-year-old Panthers goalie was strong to end the period, keeping the Panthers one goal lead heading into the third period.
In the final frame of this one, the Maple Leafs were forced to kill an early penalty. Once the blue and white were successful on the penalty kill, Toronto looked like the same team we saw in the first period as they peppered Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky with chances. After failing to find an equalizer early in the third, things started to get a lot tenser in Leaf Land. Once the clock was cut down to just five minutes, the Maple Leafs threw everything they could at the 34-year-old Panthers goaltender, but Sergei wouldn’t budge. After a bit of an underwhelming career with the Florida Panthers, Sergei Bobrovsky has bounced right back, looking like the once Columbus Blue Jackets version. As the clock trickled down, Sergei Bobrovsky shut the door, and the final horn went as the Florida Panthers stole Game 2 in Toronto, taking a 2-0 series lead into Florida.
The Toronto Maple Leafs weren’t exactly horrible in this one, making it even harder to swallow. The blue and white were strong in the first and third periods but faltered in the second, leading to the Panthers victory. As we’ve seen before in the postseason, even the littlest of slip-ups can ruin a game, and tonight showed that again. If the Maple Leafs had a clean start to the second period, we’re likely looking at a 1-1 series split heading into Florida. Despite trailing two games to none, I don’t think this series is even close to being over, making Sunday night another must-watch.
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