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Leaf offence stymied again

Bobrovsky dialled in and holds off severe shelling
John Tavares Practice

The Maple Leafs played great - and lost. 

They lost in two critical minutes with some turnover errors. The rest of the game they dominated and if it weren't for the phenomenal play of Florida goalie Bobrovsky, the result might have been very different.

A Proud Logo | The Toronto Maple Leafs Logo | Scott Gummerson
A Proud Logo | The Toronto Maple Leafs Logo | Scott Gummerson

Willy Nylander, who has come close a few times and has in the past really delivered in the playoffs when other Leafs were quiet, had about 10 shots on goal tonight but could not solve Bobrovsky.

He was far from alone, as the top four Leafs alone hit Bobrovsky with some 25 shots of the team total 36, as the Leafs overall outshot the Panthers 36-29. Even that doesn't tell the story, as by my observation, a much higher percentage of the Leafs' shots were real opportunities than for Florida. 

Leafs also capitalized on the power play, killed their only penalty, won the lion's share of the faceoffs and had more than half the puck possession.

They stayed out of the box and fought to the very end. Samsonov wss called on to make some great saves and if it hadn't been for a couple of turnovers, the score would certainly have gone the other way.

Once again, they were simply out goal-tended, except for the critical minute and a half at the beginning of the second period, when a couple of mistakes trying to make plays in their own end backfired. 

For the Leafs, Kerfoot scored from Schenn and Rielly, and O'Reilly from Marner and Matthews. Panther goals came from Lundell, Barkov and Forsling, the last with an assist from the Panthers' pacesetter, Tkachuk, whom the Leafs generally contained fairly well, but who definitely represents a threat. 

This was really tough hockey, some serious hits, the rookie Knies in particular hammered hard into the end boards by Florida, but that only one of many serious checks. The series is currently going against the hometown boys, but a case can be made they outplayed Florida, and just need to solve the goaltender or catch a break on the bounces. They had a strong lead in puck possession as well as in shots. 

Keep that cheering and moral support up, there is a lot of hockey still to play. The Leafs worked their hearts out tonight, the bounces just didn't go their way. Over seven games, the bounce factor evens out. And their track record playing in Florida recently has been pretty exceptional.

For sure, this is going to be a really tough series. It already has been.