The Leafs dropped a 4-1 decision to the Florida Panthers on Thursday night in a game that was closer than the final score indicated.
Jonathan Bernier took the loss in net, without a allowing a goal on any shot directed at him. Instead, Panthers’ forward Jussi Jokinen was the beneficiary of some rather fortunate bounces.
Twenty-four seconds into the second period on a Florida power play, Jokinen’s centring pass was accidentally deflected by Ben Smith in behind Bernier for the opening goal of the game.
Nearly nine minutes later, Jokinen – from the corner, behind the goal line – had his pass change direction as the puck was tipped by the stick of Connor Carrick. The puck found its way into the Leafs net from the bad angle to pad Florida’s lead.
Toronto got to within a goal courtesy of Morgan Rielly’s fifth goal of the year. Rielly’s shot managed to trickle under the left arm of goaltender Roberto Luongo, a bad goal for the netminder to surrender.
Empty net goals by Jaromir Jagr and Teddy Purcell rounded out the scoring.
“I thought we deserved better,” Bernier said. “We played a solid game against a really good team. Two unfortunate goals that we try to make a good play, stick on puck, and it ends up in the back of the net.”
With the loss, the Leafs were officially mathematically eliminated from the playoffs for the tenth consecutive non-lockout year.
Leafs prospect Connor Brown made his NHL debut, logging 16:30 of ice time with one shot on goal.
“It was pretty awesome,” Brown said of the experience. “The first period there was pretty surreal, playing in front of this crowd and this city. Obviously pretty disappointed they got a couple of fluke goals. I would have liked to have the game go the other way but it was all in all a memorable night.”