Leafs on brink of elimination with Game 3 OT loss to Panthers
The Toronto Maple Leafs were once heavy favourites against the eighth-seeded Florida Panthers.
Now, they’re heavy favourites to be knocked out of the second round.
The Panthers defeated the Maple Leafs 3-2 in Game 3 on Sunday. Sam Reinhart scored the winning goal for Florida just 3:02 into overtime.
Sam Reinhart scores the OT winner. What a sequence by the Panthers pic.twitter.com/MPeIZhYlX0
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) May 8, 2023
Toronto now shockingly trails 3-0 in the series against Florida.
The Panthers have a chance to sweep Toronto on home ice in Game 4, which takes place at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida on Wednesday at 7 pm ET.
The Leafs lost their starting goaltender, Ilya Samsonov, due to an injury just 37 seconds into the second period.
Ilya Samsonov is headed to the locker room after this collision, with Joseph Woll taking over in net pic.twitter.com/5Q6qS8vEHW
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) May 7, 2023
Joseph Woll, the Maple Leafs third-string goaltender, allowed three goals on 21 shots in relief.
Matt Murray, who entered the season as Toronto’s starting netminder, hasn’t appeared in a game during these playoffs due to injury.
Murray was reportedly called down from the press box to the dressing room to back-up Woll.
Matt Murray is TOR's third goalie, and has gone down to the room https://t.co/gFDbsf8wwI
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) May 7, 2023
In virtually a must-win game for Toronto, the Maple Leafs star players did not have their best performances.
None of the Leafs stars were able to hit the scoresheet. For the most part, they didn’t really have an impact in the game.
The Leafs did have the lead on two separate occasions. Sam Lafferty buried a cross-ice feed from David Kampf in the first period, which gave the Leafs a 1-0 lead.
No better time to get your first #StanleyCup Playoff goal, Sam Lafferty! 👏 pic.twitter.com/YoYzvbRdbO
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 7, 2023
Anthony Duclair then scored for Florida, less than two minutes after Woll entered the game in place of Samsonov in the second period.
Anthony Duclair breaking ankles pic.twitter.com/3pSOYGLh8Z
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 7, 2023
Then, Panthers defenceman Marc Staal accidentally tipped a pass from Leafs defenceman Erik Gustafsson into his own net, giving the Leafs a 2-1 lead.
ERIK GUSTAFSSON 🚨
THE GOOSE WAS LOOSE! LEAFS UP 2-1 pic.twitter.com/HO5Sn7k4wD
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) May 7, 2023
However, it was former Leafs draft pick Carter Verhaeghe who tied the game at 2-2, which was the last goal scored until the game went to overtime.
Verhaeghe stays HOT 🔥 pic.twitter.com/DroPvWuBKi
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) May 8, 2023
Carter Verhaeghe (4-6—10 in 10 GP) hit the 10-point mark for the second consecutive postseason and became the first player in @FlaPanthers history to accomplish the feat. #StanleyCup #NHLStats: https://t.co/CvG0wygdrR https://t.co/80FUyfbNAf
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) May 8, 2023
After finally conquering their first round demons, Toronto’s season is now surprisingly on the brink.
The Leafs had eight more wins and 19 points more than the Panthers during the regular season. They also went 3-0-1 against Florida this season before the playoffs.
Only four teams in NHL history have comeback from a 3-0 deficit to win a series. The last team to do so was the Los Angeles Kings back in 2014, when they came back from 3-0 down to beat the San Jose Sharks in the first round.
Los Angeles went onto win the Stanley Cup later that season.
Toronto was the first team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit. That was way back in 1942, when they completed the reverse sweep against the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup Finals.