The Florida Panthers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 in overtime. They now have a commanding 3-0 series lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
Sam Reinhart scored the game-winning goal just 3:02 into overtime, pushing the home-ice Panthers to the win. The Panthers are now on the brink of their first conference finals appearance since 1996.
Give it to Florida. They stunned the Boston Bruins in the first round, and now they are on the brink of beating the Maple Leafs.
Anthony Duclair and Carter Verhaeghe also scored for the Panthers, while Sam Lafferty and Erik Gustafsson scored for the Maple Leafs. Sergei Bobrovsky made 22 saves for Florida, while Joseph Woll replaced the injured Ilya Samsonov in goal for Toronto. Woll played well enough, but took the loss.
The Panthers now have the Maple Leafs on the ropes. Only four teams in NHL history have overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series. The Maple Leafs obviously must win Game 4 to avoid a sweep. However, the way they are playing it doesn’t look good for the team from Canada.
Takeaway One: There’s Still a Chance – Small, but Present
As noted, historically, only four teams in NHL history have overcome a 3-0 series deficit to win. The odds of a team in that situation coming back are low. That said, everything that happened during the regular season suggests that the Maple Leafs are better than what their fans have been seeing this series.
Is there any chance of a dramatic comeback? Maybe winning a single game can shift momentum and change the complexion of the series. And, although the chances are small, they do exist. We’ll see if there’s any life left in the Maple Leafs.
Until a team is officially eliminated, there is always a chance to turn things around. Such a comeback would indeed be memorable. While, I’m not very hopeful the team can win Game 4, who knows? They just have not been playing well enough.
Related: Maple Leafs Defence: Time for Some Changes
Takeaway Two: The Big Guns Were Firing Blanks
The star players for the Maple Leafs did not show up for the game. Where were Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and John Tavares? They simply have struggled to produce offensively in this playoff series; and, the results (or lack of results) are obvious.
Instead, after three games, the team’s goal scorers are Sam Lafferty, Erik Gustafsson, Alex Kerfoot, Ryan O’Reilly, Matthew Knies, and Michael Bunting. If you would have suggested that these depth players would have all scored by the end of Game 3, before the series I would have predicted that the Maple Leafs would be up three games to zilch.
This Maple Leafs’ team has been built to be carried by the team’s top players. Their main job is to provide scoring and lead the team to winse. The Maple Leafs’ Core Four was expected to lead the charge and elevate their performances as the postseason progressed. However, as a group, they are in a collective slump. None have found their scoring touch.
If there’s any chance of a comeback, everyone knows where that comeback must originate.
Related: Matthew Knies’ Ugly Injury: Do Only Maple Leafs’ Fans Care?
Takeaway Three: Ilya Samsonov Was Injured and Didn’t Return
Maple Leafs’ goalie Ilya Samsonov suffered an undisclosed injury during the second period of Sunday’s game. The injury occurred when Luke Schenn of the Toronto Maple Leafs tripped Brett Connolly, and in the process, collided with Samsonov. After staying down on the ice for some time, Samsonov left and didn’t return for the remainder of the game.
Right now, there’s been no official update on the nature or severity of Samsonov’s injury. If Samsonov can’t start Game 4, that job would seem to be Joseph Woll’s. Matt Murray will likely serve as the backup goalie for the Maple Leafs.
Related: Here’s Why the Panthers Shoot at Ilya Samsonov’s Head?
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May 8, 2023 at 12:19 am
Alternate 3 takeaways:
1. Marner is not a playoff player. He and Matthews are so easy to contain. Plus, Marner was a giveaway machine.
2. Keefe refuses to limit Marner’s ice time. Fellow Leaf fans, I was literally thinking we should gift him to Florida so we could take advantage of him.
3. Sadly, the game has passed JT by. He looks old and slow…
4. ( I failed basic math): The entire core this series has been a no show. None of this is the bottom six’s fault…all on the double digit millionaires. I’ll give Nylander credit for even trying.
5. You’ve seen this team play, right? No way they beat Florida 4 straight…NO WAY!
6. Dubas had years to acquire players, make trades and develop a team that can win. Did he? Nope! Why? Because he’s tied to this core. A core that fails year after year to show up when it counts.
7. Assuming Leafs lose (LOL) there’s just no way Dubas can be brought back. The team core has no heart and the future is in a shambles.
8…ugh…I’ll just stop. Why bother? Leafs don’t care, why should I?
May 8, 2023 at 2:42 am
Really well stated points and I agree with everything Al Mac has written above (or below?). On the positive, I’ve been hugely impressed with Morgan Reilly throughout the playoffs. On the negatives, despite all the resources, the Leafs management team just feels like amateur hour. I’ve been hot and cold on Dubas’s all season but am not sure anymore. The same things that challenged the Leafs three or four years ago remain (ie. they can’t handle a strong forecheck) remain. And I suspect William (Alexei Kovalev) Nylander already has his flight booked to Sweden for about about five minutes after the season ends Wednesday.
May 8, 2023 at 4:21 am
Agree. Florida has done an amazing job on the forecheck. And yep, Leafs continue year after year to struggle with any team that pressures them.
It was also notable that the Leafs wanted to create some traffic and get shots from the point. Unfortunately, Florida took special care to take away the pass from in deep back to the point, thus limiting the effectiveness of Leaf’s game plan. It was quite clear Keefe was out coached even though he had plenty of time to prepare and counter.
May 8, 2023 at 8:52 am
The only constant is Keefe he has failed as a coach he can’t put a lineup together. The coach as I have said all along needs to put O’Reilly asorida center between Tavares and Nylander while keeping Matthews line together so the Fl team has to decide which line to check. The coach for Leafs has been outcoached badly every series since he arrived.
May 8, 2023 at 11:13 am
Certainly when a team pressures the Leafs, more often than not the Leafs are unable to break the pressure to win the battles. No different last night, too many sloppy plays with the sticks and not enough real force behind the checks. This team is not a playoff pressure team
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