Colin Greening scored a pair of third period goals to help his team try and salvage at least a point, in the standings but the Leafs’ early deficit proved to be costly. The result was a 4-3 loss to the Florida Panthers in Toronto’s penultimate home game of the season.
After an uneventful opening twenty minutes, the Panthers struck for three second period goals. Nick Bjugstad pounced on a loose puck to net his 14th goal of the year, and Rocco Grimaldi – who entered the evening with just one goal in 16 games – scored twice within a span of 2:40.
In the third period, the Leafs appeared to finally register on the scoreboard when Byron Froese’s shot deflected off Grimaldi’s stick, above the right pad of Florida netminder Al Montoya. But after a coach’s challenge, the officials ruled that Brad Boyes had committed goaltender interference.
Greening broke the shutout moments later, beating Montoay to the short side from just outside the faceoff dot.
Defenceman TJ Brennan scored his first goal in a Leafs uniform to put Toronto within a goal, only to have Aleksander Barkov restore Florida’s two-goal lead just 36 seconds later.
Nonetheless, the Leafs kept plucking away, and Greening found open ice to convert a cross-ice pass from Tyler Bozak to cut Florida’s lead in half.
However, the Atlantic Division leaders held on for the victory. Jonathan Bernier made 31 saves in the loss.
“I didn’t think we were near competitive enough, some of our veteran people in the second period, not good enough and in the end that cost us,” coach Mike Babcock said. “They got rolling around on us. We went to the box too much and I thought that led to momentum and in the end, we got ourselves in a bad spot.”