|@ Maple Leafs (24-35-11)||0||1||0||1|
In the first few minutes of the game, the Panthers had two shots on goal and consequently, they hit the goal post twice. The Leafs were certainly putting pressure on Luongo as well. Around the halfway point, the Leafs started pulling ahead offensively. Michael Grabner got a breakaway opportunity that seemed to be sure to yield a goal, but Luongo stopped his shot. The Panthers clearly weren’t doing so well defensively either. With just over two minutes left in the game, Nazem Kadri was called for interference and the Panthers would finally have the chance to generate some offense. This would be increased when Brooks Laich was penalized for delay of game with seven seconds left in the first. Nonetheless, at the end of the period, both teams were scoreless. While the Leafs had 12 shots on goal, the Panthers had only 10. There just wasn’t much going on this frame for the Panthers at all. The Cats got absolutely nothing out of this period and hopefully this can be ratified in the second. Frankly, the Maple Leafs should not be a tough team to beat and the Panthers were fairly destroyed by them in terms of gameplay. The Cats’ defense and offense both must be better in the remaining periods in order for the Panthers to win.
The Panthers started the second period on the power play and immediately made up for their less-than-satisfactory first period. Jussi Jokinen shot the puck from a wide angle to score an unassisted goal. The goal was challenged by the Leafs, but the call stood and the Panthers were up by one. With the goal came a penalty on Jokinen for slashing but a few shorthanded opportunities from Reilly Smith and Vincent Trocheck allowed the Cats to kill the penalty. Garrett Wilson, Greg McKegg, and Logan Shaw played skillfully to keep the team’s momentum in check and Shaw used this momentum to draw a holding penalty on Morgan Rielly. Jonathan Bernier was challenged in the power play, but the Panthers could not capitalize. They were able to score right after, though. The puck somehow found its way to Jussi Jokinen, who was in front of the net and able to tuck it in. This goal, too, was unassisted. The Panthers seemed to have done a complete 180 this period. The Maple Leafs were still playing well too. In a game where both teams were playing at seemingly even levels, the scores are bound to be similar. Morgan Rielly proved this true late in the second period and put the Leafs within one. The Panthers ended the period on the penalty kill after Jaromir Jagr went to the penalty box on a holding call. At the end of the period, the Panthers led 2-1 and also led in shots on goal 25-22. The Cats had a much better period this period but they have been overtaken in games in which they were up by one in the second and it can definitely happen again. The Panthers will need to come out full-force in the third to pull out a win.
The Panthers and the Leafs came out in the third with equal intensity. They were physical, offensive, and defensive, making it difficult for either team to score. PA Parenteau was called for a tripping penalty off the draw and the Panthers would have another power play opportunity. The Panthers had a few decent chances but the Leafs’ defense held up and the penalty was killed. Roberto Luongo had a lot of shots to save as the Maple Leafs started to realize that the game was winding down. With three minutes left in the game, Toronto pulled their goalie. Jaromir Jagr couldn’t come out of this game without a point, though. He shot the puck down the ice and scored on the empty net. Brian Campbell assisted the goal. Bernier skated right back off the ice after the goal but it was no use. Teddy Purcell took advantage of the Maple Leaf’s shoddy defense and scored an empty net goal assisted by Nick Bjugstad and Jiri Hudler. The Panthers won this game 4-1.
Jussi Jokinen has just been so good recently. He continued his hot streak tonight by scoring the first goal of the game, as well as the second. The Wilson-Shaw-McKegg line looked great tonight too and provide the effectivity of the fourth line grind with their speedy play. Roberto Luongo did not have an easy job tonight but he performed with grace, saving every shot but one and ensuring the Panthers the win.
The Florida Panthers will head home on Saturday, March 19th, to play the Detroit Red Wings at 7:00 pm ET. Stay tuned for a COTP preview and recap of that game.