Florida Panthers edge out the Toronto Maple Leafs in a shootout

SUNRISE, FL - NOVEMBER 22: Nick Bjugstad
SUNRISE, FL - NOVEMBER 22: Nick Bjugstad /

The Florida Panthers were coming off a tough loss from Anaheim, looking to get back on track with a win against Toronto.

The Panthers started the game off on the right foot and were pouring pressure down deep in Toronto territory. Toronto, who have a repeated history for starting games off slow, looked as if they would give up the game’s opening goal early on. Fortunately enough (for them), Andersen stood tall and prevented any goals from going in.

With both goalies standing strong, the score remained zero a piece after one. Florida headed into the locker room with high confidence, but no goals to show for it. The Panthers knew their chances would come and eventually they would break the deadlock.

The game’s first goal came from Nick Bjugstad with four minutes remaining in the period. Bjugstad, who was working the puck down low with Trocheck, won the battle from behind the net and redirected his shot off Carrick’s leg and in:

The goal would send the Panthers into the locker room a goal up. It seems as if the Cats were really taking this game to Toronto, but things quickly changed in the third period.

The third was do or die for the Leafs and boy did they ever give it to the Panthers. The final period of the game started off with pure domination from the Leafs, who were firing away from all cylinders. No matter how many chances they created, Luongo was there to bail out his team and preserve his side’s lead.

Eventually, Toronto broke Luongo’s shutout and tied the game off an odd man rush. Weegar, who was caught pinching too early, gave up a 2 on 1 where Brown and Kadri went down the other. Brown wasted no time and found an open Nazem Kadri, who then slotted home the game’s tying goal. The tides were quickly turning and the momentum clearly shifted in favor of Toronto.

Things went from bad to worse as Toronto headed right back to the man advantage. Jamie McGinn would head to the box for tripping, putting his side at risk with under a minute and a half to play. Fortunately enough, the Panthers killed off the penalty successfully in overtime and would spend a brief amount of time on the power play (Nazem Kadri’s cross-check).

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As nerve-racking as overtime was, the additional period could not settle the game. Both goaltenders who stole the game for their respective sides, sent this game into a shootout, where both teams would showcase their best shooters.

Auston Matthews shot first for the Leafs and was denied from Luongo. Jonathan Huberdeau was up next and was also barely denied from Andersen. Roberto shut the door again, stopping Mitch Marner in the process. Shootout wizard (Aleksander Barkov) stepped up to the plate and scored off a beautiful one-hand backhand.

Patrick Marleau was up next and needed to score to keep his side alive. Fortunately enough (for the Leafs), Marleau beat Luongo five-hole and sent the shootout into extra shooters. Trocheck and Bozak each missed respectively, which meant that Tricky Nick had the chance to seal the deal.

Bjugstad, calm and poised, skated around Andersen with ease and slotted home the game’s winning goal:

Overall, the Florida Panthers played great in the first-two periods, but dropped off in the third. With some key saves made from Luongo, ultimately gave the Panthers a chance to win from the start. The Cats are back in action on Saturday, November 25th against the Chicago Blackhawks