The Florida Panthers needed a win tonight in order for their recent home stand to be looked on as any kind of success. While they did capture the early momentum, the Panthers were victimized by turnovers and the Maple Leafs ability to convert their chances. The 3-0 loss was the fifth straight loss for the Panthers.
Florida came out of the gate flying tonight, controlling possession and getting good looks on Toronto goalie Ben Scrivens. It looked like it was only a matter of time before the Panthers would get one but a bad turnover at the point by Mike Weaver led to a Toronto goal and a 1-0 lead for the Leafs. Weaver looked to have hesitated between shooting from the point or dumping the puck around the boards. What resulted was instead of either of these plays, Weaver went with option C which was to flub the puck softly to James Van Riemsdyk who gratefully took control and hit a streaking Phil Kessel. Kessel ripped a wrister past a helpless Jose Theodore. The goal was Kessel’s third of the year.
Florida looked to bounce back in the second period, again dominating play and getting a flurry of looks on net. After Fleischmann took a hooking penalty, the Leafs were able to convert on the power play due in large part to poor positioning by the Panther’s penalty kill. With the puck behind the net, Florida had three players below the goal line leaving the front of the net wide open. Dion Phaneuf was able to coral the puck behind the net and find Nazem Kudri who received the puck in front of Theodore and slammed it home putting the Leafs up 2-0.
After going down by two in a game they were clearly dominating, it was obvious that the Panthers intensity went right out the window and not even two minutes later, Clarke MacArthur found himself alone in front of Jose Theodore and finished easily to make the score 3-0.
That was all she wrote for the Panthers as both teams seemed content to go through the motions the rest of the game. Florida finished the game with 37 shots but were stonewalled by Ben Scrivens who now has two consecutive shutout victories. Scrivens, who has seen increased playing time in the wake of James Reimer‘s injury, stopped 34 shots in Torontos 3-0 win Saturday against Ottawa. Jose Theodore stopped 30 of 33 for the Panthers.
Florida will have to try to right the ship on the road where they will play a tough back to back Thursday and Friday nights against Philadelphia and Pittsburgh respectively.