Leafs fall behind Panthers with opening game loss in Toronto

May 3 2023, 1:45 am

Feels like we’ve seen this before.

On Tuesday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs lost Game 1 of their second round series 4-2 to the Florida Panthers.

Toronto also lost Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning before winning four of their next five en route to Round Two.

Former Maple Leafs draft pick Carter Verhaeghe netted the winning goal for Florida, just one game after his Game 7 overtime winner sent the Panthers to the second round.

The Maple Leafs drafted Verhaeghe in the third round (82nd overall) back in 2013. He never played a game for Toronto.

A more recent Leafs draft pick continued to be a story for Toronto.

Matthew Knies scored his first career playoff goal for the Maple Leafs. That goal cut Florida’s lead to 2-1.

Knies, who was drafted in the second round by the Maple Leafs in 2021, only signed with the Leafs on April 9th, when his NCAA season ended.

He played in just three regular season games for the Maple Leafs before entering Toronto’s lineup in Game 2 against Tampa Bay.

Since then, Knies has one goal and four points in six games. He’s on a three-game point streak after scoring against the Panthers.

Michael Bunting, who was previously replaced in the lineup by Knies, scored the other goal for Toronto.

It was Bunting’s first goal of the postseason in three games played.

Bunting’s goal tied the game 2-2, but the Maple Leafs were unable to solve Panthers netminder Sergei Bobrovsky after that.

He outdueled fellow Russian goalie, Ilya Samsonov, for the victory.

The Leafs ended the game with 4.33 expected goals for, compared to only 2.47 expected goals for the Panthers, according to Natural Stat Trick.

Morgan Rielly, who’s been on a tear offensively since the playoff started, assisted on both Maple Leaf goals.

He now has 10 points in seven postseason games thus far.

However, he was overshadowed by another high-octane offensive defenceman on Florida’s roster.

Brandon Montour, who had 73 points in 80 games during the regular season, scored an insurance marker for the Panthers with 7:36 remaining in the third period.

He now has six goals and nine points in eight playoff games.

Only Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen and Edmonton Oilers centre Leon Draisaitl have scored more playoff goals than Montour so far, with each player scoring seven goals in the first round.

Game 2 takes place at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Thursday.

More to come…

Trevor BeggsTrevor Beggs

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