Leafs suffer 2nd straight playoff loss to Panthers with 3-2 result in Game 2


Sergei Bobrovsky made 34 saves as the Florida Panthers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on Thursday to take a 2-0 lead in their second-round playoff series.

Anton Lundell, with a goal and an assist, Aleksander Barkov and Gustav Forsling scored for Florida.

Ryan O’Reilly and Alexander Kerfoot replied for Toronto, which blew an early 2-0 lead. Ilya Samsonov stopped 26 shots.

The best-of-seven series now shifts to Sunrise, Fla., for Games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Wednesday with the Leafs facing a steep climb.

Up 2-1 following a spirited, chippy first period, disaster struck for Toronto early in the second.

Barkov tied things just 19 seconds in on a shot from well out Samsonov should have stopped for his second goal of the post-season.

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Things got even worse 47 seconds after that thanks to some sloppy play with the puck in the defensive zone when Mitch Marner flipped an ill-advised pass to Auston Matthews, who in turn couldn’t get it out of their end.

Florida quickly countered, with Forsling finishing off a setup from Matthew Tkachuk — his fourth of the series — for his second and a 3-2 lead.

Florida Panthers defenceman Gustav Forsling (42) scores on Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov (35) during second period NHL second round playoff hockey action in Toronto on Thursday May 4, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young.


The shell-shocked Leafs took a while to recover before Nylander hit the post with a shot that also hit Bobrovsky in the back and stayed out. Florida defenceman Brandon Montour then found iron on Samsonov at the other end.

Leafs captain John Tavares had a great chance in front before Josh Mahura took a Nylander shot off the visor that left a trail of blood on the ice as he exited for the locker room. The Panthers defenceman returned for the third after getting repairs.

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Toronto came out for the third with plenty of urgency, but couldn’t solve Bobrovsky, who has started to rediscover his Vezina Trophy-winning form in these playoffs after losing the starting job late in the regular season to third-stringer Alex Lyon.

Tavares was stopped in alone on the Florida goaltender and Nylander hit another post. The Leafs winger was also denied in tight with five minutes left in regulation.

The home side continued to press with Samsonov on the bench for an extra attacker, but couldn’t find a way past Bobrovsky.

Click to play video: 'Leafs hoping for redemption in Game 2'

Leafs hoping for redemption in Game 2

Toronto dropped the series opener 4-2 at Scotiabank Arena, but got off to a flying start Thursday when Kerfoot popped home the rebound of a Luke Schenn point shot for his second at 2:20 of the first to ignite the rink — and the throng of fans outside the building watching on Maple Leaf Square’s big screen.

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Unable to connect on two early power plays in Game 1, the Leafs made it 2-0 on a man advantage at 5:10 when Marner dangled around the offensive zone and found O’Reilly to bury his third on a one-timer.

The hard-hitting Panthers, who upset the record-setting Boston Bruins in seven games to make the second round, stayed on message and started to push back as the period wore on, including Sam Bennett putting Matthew Knies in a headlock and slamming him to the ice.

The Toronto rookie finished the period, but didn’t return for the second thanks to an undisclosed injury.

Florida responded at 11:13 when Lundell scored his first after linemate Eetu Luostarinen crushed Leafs defenceman Timothy Liljegren behind Samsonov’s net and Tavares fell.

Click to play video: 'Leafs fans look to see team rebound for Game 2, round 2'

Leafs fans look to see team rebound for Game 2, round 2


Matthews assisted on O’Reilly’s first-period goal to give him points in eight straight games to tie a franchise record previously shared by Gary Roberts (2002), Doug Gilmour (1993) and Gary Leeman (1986).

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Marner is one of three finalists for the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s top defensive forward along with Boston’s Patrice Bergeron and Nico Hischier of the New Jersey Devils.

“It’s cool,” Marner said this week. “But this sport’s done with five guys on the ice … a lot of kudos to the guys around me.”


Toronto defenceman Mark Giordano — the first captain in Seattle Kraken history — has been keeping tabs on his old team’s run in the playoffs.

The second-year franchise finished 30th in last year’s standings, but secured the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot this spring before upsetting the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche in seven games in the first round.

“The foundation was laid in place last year,” said Giordano, acquired by Toronto prior to the 2022 trade deadline. “They also made some huge additions and really helped their team.”

&copy 2023 The Canadian Press

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