The Florida Panthers almost survived a bundle of penalty calls to string together their first three-game winning streak of the season but instead William Nylander scored with 3:07 left in overtime to lead the Maple Leafs to a 5-4 win.
Florida found themselves on the penalty kill seven times in the first two periods and they rode their hot penalty kill — and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky — to keep things close.
In some cases, the penalties were quite questionable.
Radko Gudas was given an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for having a word with the referees after Bobrovsky was ran by a Maple Leafs forward and Sam Bennett was given a high-stick on a play where he was tied up with John Tavares.
But they persevered to the tune of 5-for-6.
The game seemed to change after the third questionable call of the night.
Gudas was given a charging penalty late in the second period for finishing a check on Toronto’s Zac Aston-Reese.
Auston Matthews brought Toronto back within a goal on the ensuing power play with 1.1 seconds to go in the period.
The Panthers went 5-for-7 in the first two periods — also getting a shorthanded goal from Anton Lundell — to steal a win in Toronto.
And they have been doing the same things they have been doing since they started their road-heavy stretch of nine of 11 games on Jan. 6.
They kept Toronto to the outside and got aggressive in the passing lanes and they used it to shut down a talented Maple Leafs power play.
Florida is now 22-for-26 on the penalty kill since embarking on their last four-game trip in Detroit.
Everything fell off in the third period — which has been a common theme this season.
The Panthers came into the night with the most third period goals against in the league and were outscored 66-48 in the game’s final frame.
Nylander got one early and the gassed Panthers could not come up with an answer as the game headed into overtime.
Then he finished what he started.
Ilya Samsonov also got the job done for the Maple Leafs, stopping all 11 shots he faced after relieving Matt Murray early in the second period.
THE GOALS OF THE GAME
- Panthers 1, Maple Leafs 0 (1:52, 1st): Carter Verhaeghe tucked a wrist shot under the crossbar for his 21st goal of the year.
- Maple Leafs 1, Panthers 1 (2:38, 1st): Dryden Hunt deflected a Morgan Rielly feed past Sergei Bobrovsky with his foot.
- Panthers 2, Maple Leafs 1 (12:34, 1st, SHG): Anton Lundell put home the rebound of a Sasha Barkov breakaway.
- Maple Leafs 2, Panthers 2 (15:10, 1st, PPG): Alex Kerfoot picked up his own rebound and put it in with a backhand shot.
- Panthers 3, Maple Leafs 2 (18:04, 1st): Josh Mahura blasted a slap shot off of a bounce off the boards via a Radko Gudas shot past Matt Murray.
- Panthers 4, Maple Leafs 2 (1:41, 2nd, PPG): Sasha Barkov slides home a wrister from above the circle on the power play.
- Panthers 4, Maple Leafs 3 (19:58, 2nd, PPG): Auston Matthews sneaks a quick release under the bar just before time expires.
- Maple Leafs 4, Panthers 4 (5:39, 3rd): William Nylander got credit for the game-tying goal when a shot bounced off him and past Bobrovsky.
- Maple Leafs 5, Panthers 4 (1:53, OT): Nylander got another one on the only shot of the extra period.
BARKOV/LUNDELL COMBO STRONG
Anton Lundell and Sasha Barkov have been getting acquainted with each other quite well since being put on the same line as each other, but their best work was done on the penalty kill on Tuesday.
Both players have a knack for reading plays and creating in transition and that was exactly what they did.
Barkov and Lundell each created a handful of shorthanded breakaways and they converted as Lundell followed up a Barkov shot and pounced on it.
COLBY’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. William Nylander, Toronto (2 goals)
2. Sasha Barkov, Florida (goal, assist)
3. Ilya Samonov, Toronto (11 saves, 1.000 SV%, W)
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT MONTREAL CANADIENS
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Bell Center, Montreal
- 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: Florida won 3-1
- This season (Florida leads 1-0): Panthers 7, Canadiens 2 (Dec. 29)
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 52-38-11, 6 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Jan. 21 vs. Minnesota, 6 p.m.