2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs
Goalie Questions for Maple Leafs but Florida Panthers Set with Bob
SUNRISE — When the Toronto Maple Leafs visited the Florida Panthers at the end of the regular season, they were so up against the salary cap they could not afford to bring up a goalie to backup Ilya Samonsov.
Instead, they used a fill-in from the Canadian junior leagues.
The Leafs, as well as the rest of the teams left in the playoffs, do not have to worry about the salary cap any more.
That does not mean their issues in net are over. Far from it.
Early in the second period of Game 3 on Sunday, Carter Verhaeghe charged in on Samsonov with Toronto defenseman Luke Schenn trying to chase him down.
Schenn tripped Verhaeghe to draw a penalty, but then went barreling into his goalie.
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Samsonov had to be looked at on the ice before leaving for good. Joseph Woll came in with a 1-0 lead, gave up the subsequent power play goal to Anthony Duclair and ended up being beat on a wraparound from Sam Reinhart in overtime.
Florida’s 3-2 win gives them complete control of this best-of-7 series with the opportunity to end it on home ice Wednesday night in Game 4.
Who will the Leafs have in goal?
On Monday in Fort Lauderdale, Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said while Samsonov was “feeling better” it does not seem likely that he will be available for Game 4.
“He is going to get some tests and an MRI and then we’ll have a better idea,” Keefe said on a video conference call from the team’s hotel on Fort Lauderdale Beach. “Time is on our side here, with both today and tomorrow and we’ll use that time to get a better sense of where he is at.”
Woll, 24, has spent most of the past four seasons playing for the AHL Toronto Marlies with just 13 regular season games over the past three seasons.
On Sunday, he gave up three goals on 21 shots in relief of Samsonov.
“I have great confidence in him, he was not fazed going into the net (Sunday),’’ Keefe said. “He backed that up with his performance. I think our group has lots of confidence in him and more importantly, our group is real confident in him. He did not look like the moment or the situation was too big for him. If we need to go back with him, we have lot of confidence and belief in his ability.”
The Leafs also have former Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray — a two-time Stanley Cup champ with Patric Hornqvist — as an option.
Murray has been out since April 2 after suffering a concussion but served as the emergency backup on Sunday night.
When Samsonov went down, Murray went in to the Toronto locker room and suited up in case he needed to play.
It is possible he may be needed on Wednesday night. Murray was 14-8-2 with the Leafs this season.
As for the Panthers, well, they have no questions in net.
Sergei Bobrovsky turned in another strong performance in Game 3 as he made 22 saves to win his sixth consecutive playoff game.
Bobrovsky has given up just two goals in each of the first three games against the Leafs.
“It was a big win for us, definitely, but we’re not thinking about the series just one game, one shift, one period at a time,’’ Bobrovsky said after Game 3. “It is a good challenge but I stay to focused and stay in the moment.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (ATL2) AT FLORIDA PANTHERS (WC2)
GAME 4 (Florida Leads 3-0)
- When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV: ESPN
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- First Round Schedule — Game 1: Florida 4, @Toronto 2; Game 2: Florida 3, @Toronto 2; Game 3: @Florida 3, Toronto 2 (OT); Game 4: Wednesday at Florida, 7 (ESPN); Game 5*:Friday, May 12 at Toronto (TNT); Game 6*: Sunday, May 14 at Florida (TBA); Game 7*:May 16 at Toronto (TNT). (*) – If Necessary
- How They Got Here: Toronto d. Tampa Bay 4-2; Florida d. Boston 4-3
- Season Series (Toronto won 3-1): Maple Leafs 5, @Panthers 4 OT (Jan. 17); @Maple Leafs 6, Panthers 2 (Mar. 23); Panthers 3, @Maple Leafs 2 OT (March 29); Maple Leafs 2, @Panthers 1 OT (April 10)
- Last season: Florida won 2-1
- All-time Regular Season Series: Toronto leads 48-36-7, 7 ties
- Postseason History: First Meeting