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Frustrating Loss for the Florida Panthers — But a Big Point

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Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, pictured here on Long Island last season, made 32 saves in another strong performance in net Tuesday night in Toronto. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The Florida Panthers had a lot to complain about following their 5-4 overtime loss Tuesday to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

And Paul Maurice certainly let his be known.

Only his team showed a lot of fight, got some big goals early but could not get anything past Ilya Samsonov once he came out of the bullpen in the second period.

Florida chased Matt Murray after scoring four goals before the two-minute mark of the second period but Samsonov — who had flashes of brilliance for the Capitals in the playoffs last year before the Panthers figured him out — stopped all 11 shots he faced.

The Panthers only took four shots in the third period, one Toronto was buzzing in after William Nylander drew an early penalty shot.

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Nylander missed that one but ended up not only tying the score, but won it in overtime as well.

The game-tying goal came when a Mitch Marner shot hit Nylander and went past Sergei Bobrovsky (who was fantastic) at 5:59 of the third. Nylander then won it with 3:07 left in overtime.

Nylander’s winner came on the lone shot of overtime for either team.

”We went as hard as we can,” said Sasha Barkov, who chased Murray with his power-play snipe at 1:39 of the second. “Obviously, we spent a lot of time in our zone, on the penalty kill. They are going to get their shots and get their momentum.

“It is hard to spend so much time there, but we did a good job getting it to overtime. The played with the puck the whole overtime so they got their chance.”

And while the Panthers will not head to Montreal with their first winning streak of the season, they are 5-2-1 in their past eight and picked up a key point on Tuesday night.

Beat the crummy Canadiens on Thursday and the Panthers come home with five of the available six points on the trip.

That is moving forward.

“I think we are finding our identity a little bit,” Barkov said. “I thought we had it earlier in the season but we had a slump after that. The past two, three weeks we have been learning how to work as a team.

“We have been working very hard and smart. It won’t go our way all the time, but the past six, seven games, the effort has been there and we have been winning as well.”

In talking about complaints, the Panthers had a few with the officials who put their whistles away — save for the correct penalty shot call on Gus Forsling early in the third.

Florida spent much of the first two periods in the box with a couple of phantom calls (Ryan Lomberg’s hook, Radko Gudas’ charge among them) thrown in for good measure.

The Panthers’ penalty kill did give up two goals but staved off five of the Toronto chances as Bobrovsky ended the night with 32 saves.

Florida got things rolling when Carter Verhaeghe got No. 21 just 1:52 in before former Panthers’ forward Dryden Hunt tied it when a shot went off his skate 46 seconds later.

The two teams were also tied at 2 following a power play goal from Alex Kerfoot — this came after Anton Lundell and Barkov teamed up on a sweet shorthanded goal — with Florida building a two-goal advantage in the second.

With goals from Josh Mahura and Barkov, the Panthers were up 4-2 when Murray got the hook after facing just eight shots on goal.

The penalty box parade seemed to take something out of the Panthers as they played the second of a back-to-back. Toronto could not take full advantage, with the game-tying goal coming off a loose puck.

Of course, the only reason Toronto was down a single goal was due to the power play Auston Matthews cashed in on with 1.1 seconds left in the second.

That came on the Gudas ‘charging’ penalty.

”Even though this is, by far, our most difficult stretch, our room feels good,” Maurice said. “They are a little tired, but it feels good because our work level and our compete level is much higher than it was in December. …

“We’re working our butts off right now. You may not have seen it at the end due to the fatigue, but they are working hard enough to win games. When you do that, your goalie starts making more saves, everyone starts feeling better. But, tough loss tonight.”

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.

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