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.
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.
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.
/ 7 hours ago
It sounds like a decision from Patrick Kane is imminent and there's one clear...
/ 7 hours ago
Patrik Laine said that being made a healthy scratch was the most embarrassing thing...
/ 8 hours ago
Milan Lucic is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday in Boston Municipal Court on...
/ 1 day ago
According to an NHL insider regarding the Columbus Blue Jackets, 'one way or the...
/ 1 day ago
A number of NHL executive revealed what they thought was a fair value on...
/ 2 days ago
Columbus Blue Jackets have announce Patrik Laine as a healthy scratch for tonight's game...
The Edmonton Oilers were seen scouting the Montreal Canadiens this week and teams said...
The Edmonton Oilers dominated Tampa in the first, but couldn't put the Lightning away,...
The Edmonton Oilers start their road trip on Saturday, trying to win four games...