SUNRISE — The Florida Panthers lost in Philadelphia on Tuesday night and it did not look good at the time. The loss certainly has not aged well, especially after what happened on Thursday night against the visiting Maple Leafs.
With the playoff race so tight, the Panthers cannot afford to lose to teams like Philadelphia when the likes of Toronto and New York are coming to town.
Auston Matthews scored twice as Toronto scored three in the second period en route to a 6-2 win over the Panthers as Florida has now lost two consecutive games at, perhaps, the worst possible time.
Florida came into the night a point back of Pittsburgh for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with the Penguins playing the Dallas Stars later.
Toronto, coming off a 7-2 spanking by the Islanders, took a 1-0 lead on Matthews’ first goal before Matthew Tkachuk tied it up on a great shot that a video review showed Matt Murray pulled over the goal line.
But the Leafs got a couple quick ones to kick off the second as the Panthers looked slow coming out of the room and that was about all they needed.
Down 3-1, Nick Cousins gave Florida life at 11:43 of the second but Michael Bunting cashed in on an extended 5-on-3 power play chance at the end of the period to give Toronto its w-goal cushion right back.
With 5:37 left, Alexander Kerfoot put the finishing touches on the Panthers by scoring off a nice feed from John Tavares.
GOALS OF THE GAME
- Maple Leafs 1, Panthers 0 (5:05, 1st): Auston Matthews is a dangerous player wherever he is on the ice and showed that once more on Thursday night. Here he scores from the top of the slot and beats Sergei Bobrovsky.
- Panthers 1, Maple Leafs 1 (14:25, 1st): Matt Murray appeared to make a fantastic save on a Matthew Tkachuk sharp-angled shot; only Murray pulled the puck out of the net with his glove. After review, good goal — on the power play, no less.
- Maple Leafs 2, Panthers 1 (1:20, 2nd): William Nylander gets in front of Bobrovsky and sends one through his legs.
- Maple Leafs 3, Panthers 1 (2:57, 2nd): Matthews gets his second of the night with a really, really nice goal.
- Maple Leafs 3, Panthers 2 (11:43, 2nd): Nick Cousins stops the bleeding for the Panthers as he scores off a backhanded shot through the slot.
- Maple Leafs 4, Panthers 2 (18:21, 2nd): Toronto got a shot at and extended 5-on-3 and did not miss as Michael Bunting scores from the slot.
- Maple Leafs 5, Panthers 2 (14:23, 3rd): Alexander Kerfoot drove the lane and scored off a backdoor feed from John Tavares.
- Maple Leafs 6, Panthers 2 (15:49, 3rd): Mitch Marner scored into an empty net as Florida was trying to get something going on the power play.
FHN’S 3 STARS OF THE NIGHT
1. Auston Matthews, Toronto
2. Mitch Marner, Toronto
3. John Tavares, Toronto
PANTHERS ON DECK
NEW YORK RANGERS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Saturday, 5 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida, ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Rangers won 2-1
- This season (New York leads 2-0): Rangers 5, Panthers 3 (Jan. 1); Rangers 6, Panthers 2 (Jan. 23)
- All-time regular season series: Rangers lead 59-32-8, 6 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Florida at Ottawa Senators, Monday, 7 p.m.