Alex Lyon gave the Florida Panthers everything he had Wednesday night in Toronto — and Brandon Montour rewarded him for it in overtime.
Lyon, filling in heroically for the ill Sergei Bobrovsky, ended the night with 38 saves and it was Montour’s overtime winner which ended Florida’s four-game losing streak with a 3-2 win.
Sam Reinhart helped get the Panthers at least a point by deflecting a power play shot from Aaron Ekblad with 58.5 seconds left in regulation
Florida is now a point back of Pittsburgh for the final playoff spot with seven games remaining.
While Lyon brought his best to the ice on Wednesday night, the rest of his teammates did not — until the end.
Despite the score either being in Florida’s favor or tied for much of the game, the Panthers were chasing this one the entire time.
And Paul Maurice, apparently, was finally fed up with the losing — and the way his team was losing — as he went on a profanity-laced tirade aimed at those on the bench in the second period.
Did not make much of a difference, at least for a bit.
The Panthers did get off to a quick start, grabbing the initial lead when the Leafs turned over the puck deep in their own zone.
Eetu Luostarinen picked it off, left it for Anton Lundell and the sophomore center snapped a 12-game drought with his 10th goal of the season.
There were not many more highlights from Panthers not named Alex Lyon for quite some time as he kept the Leafs off the board with 14 saves in the opening period.
Toronto finally scored on Zach Auston-Reese’s big deflection in front of the net at 3:13 of the second.
It appeared the Leafs made it 2-1 just 34 seconds later on a goal from Calle Jarnkrok, but the Panthers challenged for offside and it was determined Auston Matthews came through early.
That break in the action gave Maurice a moment or three to berate his team’s effort with some extremely salty language — including one phrase which one might call a pet cat.
— Bally Sports Florida: Panthers (@BallyPanthers) March 30, 2023
While the tirade became a smashing success on social media, the Panthers did not do much more.
As it was, Ekblad got the team’s first shot on goal of the period with 9:35 left.
Lyon was, for the most part, doing it on his own.
With 8:27 left in the second, Auston-Reese was pulled down by Montour on a breakaway with Lyon stopping him on the penalty shot.
Florida ended up getting outshot 15-11 in the second, most of those shots coming in the final five minutes.
The Panthers and Leafs went toe-to-toe in the third but Matthews’ bomb from outside the left circle at 6:40 gave the Leafs their first lead.
Florida came hard in the final minutes, pulling Lyon with 2:50 left.
The Panthers drew a power play at 2:20 and Lyon went back to the bench — with Reinhart tipping in the Ekblad shot to give them at least a point.
Matthews had another couple of chances in overtime, but Montour gave the Panthers a much-needed win and ended two losing streaks (including one in Toronto) with the big goal.
GOALS OF THE GAME
- Panthers 1, Maple Leafs 0 (1:00, 1st): The Leafs cough up the puck deep in the defensive zone, Eetu Luostarinen picks it off and leaves a drop pass for Anton Lundell who gets his first after a 12-game drought.
- Maple Leafs 1, Panthers 1 (3:13, 2nd): Zach Auston-Reese gets his stick out on a long shot from TJ Brodie and knocks it past Alex Lyon.
- Maple Leafs 2, Panthers 1 (6:40, 3rd): Auston Matthews tees off on a pass from Mitch Marner and gets his 37th of the season. It comes on the 38th shot of the night from the Leafs.
- Panthers 2, Maple Leafs 2 (19:00, 3rd): Sam Reinhart deflects a shot from Aaron Ekblad on a power play with Lyon on the bench to give Florida new life in the final minute.
- Panthers 3, Maple Leafs 2 (1:41, OT): Brandon Montour becomes the hero of the night as he sets the franchise record for most points by a d-man in a single season with style.
GR’S THREE STARS OF THE GAME
1. Alex Lyon, Florida
2. Auston Matthews, Toronto
3. Brandon Montour, Florida
PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT MONTREAL CANADIENS
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Bell Center, Montreal
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Sun and BSF (joining after Marlins Opening Day), 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 3-0): Panthers 7, Canadiens 2 (Dec. 29); Panthers 6, Canadiens 2 (Jan. 19); Panthers 9, Canadiens 5 (March 16)
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 54-38-11, 6 ties
- Up Next for the Panthers: Florida at Columbus Blue Jackets, Saturday, 7 p.m.