Sammy Smiles & Willy Styles; Leafs With A 5-4 OT Win In A Wild One Against Florida

Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

Coming off of a fast start against the Buffalo Sabres yesterday, the Florida Panthers continued their quick starts in this one. Former Leaf Carter Verhaeghe opened the scoring just 1:52 into the game with his 21st goal of the year. The Leafs wasted very little time as Morgan Rielly collected the loose puck in the Panthers’ zone and found a streaking Dryden Hunt, who scored his first goal as a Leaf just 48 seconds after the Panther’s goal. Seconds after the Leafs tied the game Brendan Montour was called for interference on William Nylander, giving the blue and white the first power play of the game. The Panthers were successfully killed off the man advantage, keeping it a 1-1 game. Just shy of the 9-minute mark of the first period, Sam Bennett was called for hooking Pierre Engvall, giving the Leafs their second power play. Once again, the Panthers held the Leafs’ power play off the scoresheet. In the dying seconds of the man advantage, Bobrovsky made an amazing save to keep it a 1–1 game. The Leafs’ relentless attack continued to be too much for the Panthers as John Tavares went to the attack and was tripped by Gustav Forsling as he fired a shot on goal. The Panthers’ aggressiveness continued as Barkov generated a shorthanded breakaway while shorthanded, but he was stopped. Fortunately for the Panthers, Anton Lundell was there to bury the rebound to give them a 2-1 lead. Seconds after the Panthers took the lead, Mitch Marner was called for interference on Marc Staal, making it four on four. The parade to the penalty box continued as Radko Gudas was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. Alex Kerfoot tied things up for the Leafs with the man advantage with his seventh goal of the year 15:10 into the period. Josh Mahura let a shot fly from along the boards just inside the Leafs’ blue line that somehow found its way past Murray giving the Panthers a 3-2 lead with under two minutes remaining in the opening frame. Shots on goal after 20 minutes of play were 14-7 in favor of the Leafs. TOI leader for the blue and white after the first was Auston Matthews with 8:21. 

Only five seconds into the second period Bobby McMann was called for high sticking on Matthew Tkachuk. Mitch Marner intercepted a pass and was home free, but he elected to try his go-to move, where he dropped it back for the trailing forward, but the Panthers broke it up. As the Panthers got set up in the offensive zone, they worked the puck around, and Barkov made absolutely no mistake firing an absolute laser bar down past Murray to give the Panthers a 4-2 lead. Immediately after the Barkov goal, Sheldon Keefe pulled Matt Murray, instantly sending Ilya Samsonov in to replace him after he gave up four goals on just eight shots. It marks the first time Murray has been pulled in his young Leaf’s career. 5:34 into the period, Sam Bennett was called for high-sticking John Tavares. Once again, the Leafs came up empty-handed with the man advantage. Jarnkrok was under pressure from Ryan Lomberg, who eventually hooked Jarnkrok in the hands resulting in yet another power play for the Leafs. Yet again, the blue and white were unsuccessful with the man advantage, and the Panthers generated a couple of dangerous chances offensively. The crowd began to get restless with the power play as they began to boo the Leafs. Ilya Samsonov lost his stick, and Engvall tried to get the stick back to his goaltender, but Sam Bennett shot the stick away from the Leafs goaltender, which resulted in an interference penalty … or so we thought. Panthers head coach Paul Maurice voiced his opinion, which caused the refs to review the play. After the review, Bennett was removed from the penalty box, and Timothy Liljegren was assessed an … interference penalty? What? NHL refs have absolutely no clue what they are doing, and it couldn’t have been more evident than it was during that sequence.

A scrum broke out in the Leafs’ zone, which resulted in two minor penalties for both teams. Matthews and Bunting for the Leafs, and Marc Staal and Nick Cousins for the Panthers. Radko Gudas laid a low hip check at the knees on Pierre Engvall, which sparked a reaction from Zach Aston-Reese, who tried to fight Gudas but turtled like the coward he is. As a result of the play, the Panthers were given a power play. The Leafs managed to kill off the man advantage, and as Aston-Reese made his way out of the box, he drove the net in the offensive zone where who else, but Radko Gudas absolutely decked Aston-Reese directly into the post of the Panthers’ goal. As a result of the play, the Leafs were given a power play. This time the Leafs’ top unit went to work as William Nylander found Auston Matthews, who made absolutely no mistake, ripping home his 22nd goal of the year with just 1.1 seconds to go in the second frame. Not so fast, though, as the refs elected to review it as Bobrovsky had knocked his net off all on his own. After the review was completed, it was deemed a good goal making it a one-goal game heading to the third period. With the second assist on the goal, Mitch Marner officially passed Darryl Sittler for the longest home point streak with 19 games and counting. Shots on goal in the second period were 13-8 in favor of the Leafs and 27-15 overall, also in favor of the blue and white. TOI leader after 40 minutes was Morgan Rielly with 15:26. 

Just 36 seconds into the third period William Nylander was pulled down on a breakaway and went hard into the end boards. Nylander was awarded a penalty shot as a result of the play. He decided to deke and had Bobrovsky beat, but he put the backhander over the bar. The Leafs absolutely dominated the first five and a half minutes of the third period, applying tons of pressure on the Panthers. Marner let a shot go from the point that Bobrovsky stopped, but it deflected off of Nylander’s head and into the net for his 23rd of the year, making it a 4-4 game with 14 minutes remaining in regulation. The Panthers responded with a shift of their own, but Samsonov came up with his second massive save so far in the third period. The Leafs absolutely ran the Panthers’ show for the entire third period. They were beating them to every loose puck, and most of the play was spent in the Panthers’ zone—full credit to Bobrovsky for keeping his team in the game. There was a battle in front of the Panthers’ net, which resulted in Eric Staal absolutely mugging David Kampf that went uncalled. Staal threw Kampf to the ice and then fell on top of him and delivered multiple punches to the head of Kampf. Of course, there wasn’t a call on the play. The third period would come to a close with the game still tied 4-4, which means they were headed for overtime. Shots on goal in the third period were 9-4 in favor of the Leafs and 36-19 overall in favor of the blue and white as well. 

The Leafs would win the opening face-off to start overtime to gain possession. They would have possession of the puck for the majority of overtime. William Nylander corralled the puck inside of the Leafs’ blue line, and he would go end to end and make absolutely no mistake finishing off an absolutely gorgeous goal for his second of the game and 24th of the year. A fantastic game from number 88.

TOI leader in this one for the blue and white was Morgan Rielly with 24:44. 

Tonight’s Three Stars 

1. William Nylander – 2 Goals and 1 Assist 

2. Mitch Marner – 2 Assists 

3. Ilya Samsonov – 11 Saves In Relief 

The Leafs are back in action on Thursday as they host the Winnipeg Jets! 

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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