Going into the third period with a 3-1 lead the Toronto Maple Leafs let the game slip away as the Florida Panthers in crushing fashion.
Watching the Toronto Maple Leafs go from being up 3-1 and in control of the game to seeing the Florida Panthers walk away with the 5-3 win was tough.
It’s easy to be upset with how the game turned out considering the Leafs were dominant for most of the game and there was a lot to like from the performance. Then everything changed when Frank Vatrano collided with him near the end of the first period.
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Then in the second period, the Leafs took their game to the Panthers as they held an 18-6 advantage in scoring chances. Despite dominating through two periods, Toronto was unable to keep their foot on the gas suffering a similar fate the San Francisco 49ers did in Super Bowl LIV.
Obviously, with a win, the Leafs would have moved past Florida for third place in the Atlantic and now they are tied at 63 points but the Panthers have two more wins in regulation and have two games in hand. So yes, this game was a crucial one but at the same time, it’s not the end of the world considering there are 29 games left in the season and the Leafs have won three of four games out of the break.
Sheldon Keefe said after the game that if the Leafs play the way did against the Panthers they win 99 times out of 100 and it’s tough to argue against that. Instead of talking about how well the Leafs played, the narrative is now around Frederik Andersen and a particular defenceman who continues to struggles.
Cody Ceci played 12:22 at 5-on-5 against the Panthers and was on the ice for two goals against and at one point had a chance for a decent scoring chance only to shoot the puck well wide. The defenceman recently spoke about his struggles coming for Ottawa to Toronto and it’s becoming clearer that the Leafs have to figure out another option for the right side.
When it comes to Andersen, the most recent update was that Kasimir Kaskisuo was recalled from the Toronto Marlies and the Marlies called up Parker Gahagen from the ECHL. That would either suggest that the Leafs are taking a cautious approach at practice or they expect Andersen to miss some time.
At this point, until the team provides a more concrete update on Andersen’s status, it’s tough to speculate about the team’s plans going forward.
What worried you about the Leafs’ loss to the Panthers? Can they find a way to move forward? Let us know in the comments below.