Post-Game Analysis: Panthers Take Commanding 3-0 Series Lead After Beating Leafs in Overtime

Florida Panthers center Sam Reinhart, center, celebrates scoring the game-winning goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during overtime of Game 3 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series, Sunday, May 7, 2023, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Michael Laughlin)
(AP Photo/Michael Laughlin)

The Florida Panthers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 in overtime, taking a commanding 3-0 series lead. After stealing the opening two games on the road, the Cats continued their impressive streak, winning another. The Maple Leafs started strong early but faltered as the night went along, setting themselves up for an ugly situation heading into Game 4.

In the opening period, the Maple Leafs came out hot, scoring the game’s first goal only 2:26 into the game. After a stretch pass by Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly found the blade of teammate David Kampf. The 28-year-old forward then played a pass across for a wide-open Sam Lafferty to bury the opportunity. Once the Maple Leafs scored, the Florida Panthers immediately turned their game around, hunting for an equalizer. After the Panthers dominated the final ten minutes of the first period, the Maple Leafs were lucky to escape the first period with a lead.

Once the middle frame kicked off, the Cats kept the momentum rolling, leading to a power-play opportunity. After Maple Leafs defenseman Luke Schenn was called for tripping on the man advantage, Panthers forward Anthony Duclair finally scored for the Panthers, beating Leafs goaltender Joseph Woll. After the game was tied, both teams started to open up, but scoring first was the Maple Leafs. Leafs defenseman Erik Gustafsson threw the puck back door, hoping to find his teammate, but the puck caught a bounce off Panthers defenseman Marc Staal leading to a goal. After the blue and white scored their second, nearly five minutes later, the Panthers struck right back. Florida Panthers forward Carter Verhaeghe added his fourth of the playoffs, tying the game up at two apiece. After the Panthers tied the game, both sides went into the intermission with two goals, making the third period extremely tense. 

In the third period, both teams started to play with some jump. However, neither side could score a goal in the final twenty, which sent us to overtime. After coming into the game due to Ilya Samsonov’s injury, Leafs goaltender Joseph Woll shut the door late in the third, being one of the key factors sending this one to overtime. The Maple Leafs had their opportunities in the final period but just couldn’t beat Sergei Bobrovsky either. 

Once the puck was dropped for overtime, the Florida Panthers came out flying. After cycling the puck early, the Panthers nearly scored. After the Maple Leafs started to get a little bit of momentum circulating, it was all taken away thanks to Panthers forward Sam Reinhardt. After making a shifty move down low behind Leafs goaltender Joseph Woll. Reinhardt then took the puck around the goal, sliding it through the legs of the Maple Leafs goaltender. Once the goal light flickered, Leafs nation was heartbroken as they dropped Game 3 in overtime. 

It’s safe to say this series has been disappointing to many, after an amazing first-round victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Maple Leafs have found themselves in a fairly deep hole as we head to Game 4. Coming back from a 3-0 series deficit is possible, but the blue and white are in need of some massive change. With the way the Florida Panthers are playing, it’ll take a full team effort if the Leafs have any intentions of making a comeback here in the second round. 

Thanks for reading! For more Leafs content, follow me on Twitter at ITR_Anselmo.

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Joshua Anselmo

A hockey mind that's always looking at new and insightful ways to bring different perspectives of the game we all love.

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