Kasperi Kapanen scored a goal with 2:17 in the first period on the power play to make it a 3-2 game. Defensively, the Florida Panthers looked discombobulated, as Kapanen’s shot deflected off Aaron Ekblad. The Panthers could never clear out of the zone and that resulted in a goal. Things got tighter, but the Panthers had ample opportunities to close the door.
Austin Matthews made the game a bit tighter as he was able to find the puck out of traffic in front of the net and put it home to make it a 3-3 game. That was scored with 18:58 left in the first period.
From there, it was a complete collapse for the Florida Panthers. After a scoreless second period for both clubs, Toronto managed to score two goals in the third.
William Nylander’s go-ahead goal was thanks to a turnover in the Florida zone from Frank Vatrano. Again, it was more of the same for Florida. They just could not seem to clear it out of their own zone, and Toronto capitalized. This is exactly what I was afraid of. The goal by Nylander made it a 4-3 game.
The final goal was an empty-netter scored by Justin Holt. That just added more salt to the wound.
The Florida Panthers were their own worst enemy
Overall, it was another frustrating game where the defense could just not keep it together. Not only that, Florida kept shooting themselves in the foot. Turnovers in their own zone, combined with sloppy puck control led to a mess.
It would be easy to blame Sergei Bobrovsky. He did the best he could with the difficult situation Thursday. He had 24 saves on the evening.
This is exactly what I was afraid of. The Florida Panthers have been their own worst enemy many times this season. Toronto is a team with talent that can capitalize. They did that Thursday . Florida is a team that is very talented. However, if they keep making the same mistakes defensively, they will not get very far. This is a young team for sure. However, the Panthers don’t have much room to play with. They shot themselves in the foot tonight in a game that was a crucial one.
I hate to say this, but kudos to Toronto. They kept playing hard throughout the course of the game, and forced Florida to make untimely errors. They kept attacking, and it worked.
Florida needs to fix their mistakes quickly, particularly defensively. Puck management in their own zone should be a focal point practice before they take the ice against Chicago on Saturday.