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Comeback Comes Short: Toronto Maple Leafs 6, Florida Panthers 4



Panthers leafs

If the Toronto Maple Leafs wanted to send a message to the Florida Panthers before the playoffs start, Monday was their night to do it.

Only the Panthers refused to go away — even down four goals heading into the third.

The Panthers tried to rally by scoring three goals in the third but Toronto’s lead was just too much as it pulled out a 6-4 win.

Florida, which has dropped seven of its past nine (2-6-1), looked out of sorts for the first two periods as Toronto did whatever it wanted.

Whenever it wanted.

It was a sloppy start all around for the Panthers who left Sergei Bobrovsky hanging out on an island.

Florida did a poor job of defending down low as four of Toronto’s first five goals came off plays right in front of the net.

Auston Matthews, held in check by the Panthers in their past seven games, got his 61st of the season by getting in front of Bobrovsky and scoring off a pass from TJ Brodie.

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Florida trailed 2-0 going into the second off that goal and appeared to pull itself right back into the fight when Brandon Montour’s wrist shot from the blue line soared past Ilya Samsonov to make it 2-1.

Moments later, Tyler Bertuzzi got in front and deflected a shot from Matthews to give Toronto its 2-goal lead right back.

It would not get better from there as the Leafs scored two more in the second to make it 5-1.

Florida, which put Anthony Stolarz in to start the third, certainly showed signs of life down 4.

Vladimir Tarasenko made it 5-2 at 2:12 of the third by redirecting a Niko Mikkola shot.

Florida pulled within 5-3 at 11:58 of the third when Tarasenko fed Sam Reinhart from behind the net.

Then, Sam Bennett scored off a pass from Tarasenko with 1:50 left to really put a scare into the Leafs.

Only Matthews got his second of the night into the empty net. That was that.

If nothing else, the Panthers could feel a little better about things heading into Tuesday’s game against Montreal.

— Florida lost Carter Verhaeghe to an apparent injury early in the third period as he left the game after two shifts in and did not return.


  • Leafs 1, Panthers 0 (13:59, 1st): Dmitry Kulikov’s pass at the top of the zone is picked off by Matthew Knies and he feeds it to a streaking Nicholas Robertson who drives in and beats Sergei Bobrovsky.
  • Leafs 2, Panthers 0 (14:32, 1st): Auston Matthews gets his 61st of the season — and first against Florida since April — as he gets in front and scores off a pass from TJ Brodie.
  • Leafs 2, Panthers 1 (0:47, 2nd): Right after Florida’s third power-play chance ends, Brandon Montour flies one from the blue and beats Ilya Samsonov. The momentum would not last.
  • Leafs 3, Panthers 1 (1:28, 2nd): Tyler Bertuzzi gets in front of the net — notice a trend here — and knocks in a shot from Matthews.
  • Leafs 4, Panthers 1 (8:32, 2nd): David Kampf gets in front of the net, gets his own rebound off Bobrovsky and backhands it home.
  • Leafs 5, Panthers 1 (14:05, 2nd): Knies gets in front of the net and, well, you know.
  • Leafs 5, Panthers 2 (2:12, 3rd): Niko Mikkola’s shot from the point is deflected in the slot by Vladimir Tarasenko and those who took the Over are happy.
  • Leafs 5, Panthers 3 (11:58, 3rd): Sam Reinhart gets No. 52 by one-timing a nice pass from Tarasenko.
  • Leafs 5, Panthers 4 (18:10, 3rd): Sam Bennett pulls the Panthers within a goal as Tarasenko gets his third point of the night.
  • Leafs 6, Panthers 4 (19:14, 3rd EN): Matthews gets his 62nd into an empty net.


1. Auston Matthews, Toronto

2. Vladimir Tarasenko, Florida

3. Matthew Knies, Toronto



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