Panthers take 2-0 series lead after Game 2 win against Leafs

TORONTO — Game 2 of the Panthers-Maple Leafs series was another gutsy performance by the Panthers. After trailing early in the game, the Panthers fought back, scoring three unanswered goals in a 3-2 win on the road.


After losing Game 1 at home, Toronto got the perfect start to their Thursday night. 2:20 into the game, Alex Kerfoot cleaned up a rebound before the Panthers and Sergei Bobrovksy could get to it, giving the Leafs an early lead.


Moments later, the Leafs went to their first power play of the night. Just 30 seconds into the man-advantage, Mitch Marner hit a wide open Ryan O’Reilly, who buried the one-timer to put the Leafs up 2-0 five minutes into the game.


Toronto’s constant pressure had Florida pinned in their own zone for the majority of the opening 10 minutes of the game.


It looked like Toronto was about to run away with the game quickly – and to make matters worse for the Panthers, the Leafs went to their second power play less than 90 seconds after O’Reilly made it  2-0.

The Panthers were able to get through the early flurry of Maple Leafs pressure down just two goals… yes, it was that threatening they were lucky to just be down two.


At the 11:13 mark of the first, Florida got some life back off a great shift from their third line. A hard forecheck from Eetu Luostarinen allowed Sam Reinhart to get free behind the net. With all the attention drawn towards Reinhart, he laid a slick pass to Anton Lundell in front of the net. Lundell scored his first goal of the playoffs to cut the deficit to one.


“We’ve been able to find a game that works right now and we just need to keep going,” said Lundell.


Florida got some jump in their step after Lundell’s goal. Aaron Ekblad was inches away from tying the game later in the period, but Toronto’s Ilya Samsonov came up with a few big saves, including a glove save on Ekblad.

After 20, the Leafs led 2-1.


While the start of the first was all Leafs, the Panthers completely flipped the script to start the second.


19 seconds into the period, Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov fired the puck off the rush past Samsonov, tying the game at 2-2.


Less than a minute after Barkov tied the game, Luostarinen forced a turnover at the Leafs’ blueline. He hit Tkachuk, who walked into the zone at the end of his shift and lasered a cross ice pass to Gustav Forsling. Forsling gave the Panthers the 3-2 lead.


The remainder of the second period was a more even playing field. Both teams had their fair share of chances, crossbars and missed opportunities.


The Panthers went into the break with a 3-2 lead.


In the third, Toronto came out of the gates hard. The opening 12 minutes of the period was spent mostly in Florida’s zone.


When the Panthers could clear the zone, Toronto quickly transitioned back up the ice through the neutral zone.


The Panthers had given up multiple two-on-one chances; the Leafs were piling on the chances.


It was a barrage of firepower coming from the Leafs. Quality chances left and right but to no avail.

Sergei Bobrovsky has owned the net for the Panthers since Game 5 against Boston. After the two early goals by Toronto, Bobrovsky stood on his head again – stopping everything he saw.


“Bob, he grinds and just continues to work on his game and takes care of himself,” said Matthew Tkachuk. “He deserves it, he’s been the leader for us since he’s come back, we’re very lucky to have him.


Florida has won five straight games including three on the road.


The Panthers now head back home with a 2-0 series lead. They haven’t played in front of their home fans since their 7-5 Game 6 win against Boston.

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