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2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs

East Semis, Game 2: Florida Panthers 3, Toronto Maple Leafs 2

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The Toronto Maple Leafs jumped all over the Florida Panthers to start Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Thursday night.

Florida returned the favor coming out of the first intermission.

After surviving a total offensive onslaught from the homestanding Leafs, Florida opened the second with a pair of goals within the first 66 seconds and held on in the third to take command of the series with a 3-2 win.

Florida got goals from Anton Lundell, Sasha Barkov and Gus Forsling; Sergei Bobrovsky made 34 saves in another phenomenal start in goal.

Toronto ended up scoring two goals on its first six shots on goal; Bobrovsky stopped the next 30 — 14 of which were high-danger chances by the Leafs.

The Panthers now have a 2-0 series lead in the best-of-7 series with the next two games on home ice.

Florida, which has not led a series 2-0 since its first-ever series back in 1996 against the Bruins, host Game 3 on Sunday night.

The Panthers have won five consecutive games dating to Game 5 of the Boston series. They have also won five of six road games in this postseason.

If anyone thought Toronto was going to pack up for the season after losing Game 1, well, they were nuts.

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The Leafs came out flying to start Game 2, outshooting Florida 13-2 to open things and held a 2-0 lead after the first 5:10.

Alex Kerfoot opened the scoring 2:20 in and then Ryan O’Reilly scored on one of Toronto’s two early power play chances.

The Panthers were on their heels for the first 10 minutes of the game — as should have been expected based on the situation — but staunched the bleeding at 11:13 when Sam Reinhart found a streaking Lundell with a sweet backhanded feed from behind the net to make it a 2-1 game.

Florida settled down after that. It was a big goal.

The Panthers dominated the first half of the second, one in which Florida set the tone early.

Barkov tied the score just 19 seconds into the period off a turnover forced by Anthony Duclair at center ice. Not long afterward, Auston Matthews turned it over to Eetu Luostarinen and Forsling’s wrist shot from the left circle gave the Panthers their first lead of the night.

Florida continued to keep the pressure on Toronto and goalie Ilya Samsonov until the second half of the period when things started to even out.

Toronto came out gangbusters to start the third, putting tons of pressure on Bobrovsky who stood strong again — making a number of big saves including on on Florida nemesis John Tavares.

A couple of posts and cross-bars hit by the Leafs did not hurt, either.

— Florida had a scary moment in the second when Josh Mahura took a shot toward the net in the face. William Nylander wound up and fired a shot that just went left of the net and caught Mahura in the visor.

Mahura skated off the ice leaving a trail of blood due to the visor cutting him. He returned in the third.

GOALS OF THE GAME

  • Leafs 1, Panthers 0 (2:20, 1st): Alex Kerfoot is able to find a loose puck no one on the Panthers can clear in front of Sergei Bobrovsky.
  • Leafs 2, Panthers 0 (5:10, 1st): The Leafs get their first power play goal of the series as Ryan O’Reilly fires off a shot from the right circle on Toronto’s sixth shot of the period.
  • Leafs 2, Panthers 1 (11:13, 1st): Sam Reinhart chases down a puck to the backwall and makes a nifty backhanded pass to a streaking Anton Lundell on Florida’s fourth shot of the night.
  • Panthers 2, Leafs 2 (0:19, 2nd): Sasha Barkov ties things up after Anthony Duclair forces a turnover at center ice and gets it to the Florida captain who throws one in from the left circle.
  • Panthers 3, Leafs 2 (1:06, 2nd): Eetu Luostarinen forces another turnover as Auston Matthews coughs it up and Gus Forsling fires one past Ilya Samsonov. Turned out to be the game-winner and, thanks to Bobrovsky, the final goal scored in the game.

GR’S 3 STARS OF GAME 2

1. Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida

2. Gus Forsling, Florida

3. Anton Lundell, Florida

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (ATL2) AT FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
GAME 3 (Panthers Lead 2-0)

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