There was likely much excitement surrounding the Leafs trip to Florida with a matchup against the Panthers as the they brought their dads along for the annual father-son road trip. But the Leafs had yet another sluggish start to the game.
The Leafs didn’t come out the way they wanted to, and couldn’t seem to generate anything in the way of chances against the Panthers, who sit far behind the Leafs in points. Getting outshot by their opponent has been an area of concern this season, and it continued throughout the first period, as the Leafs were outshot significantly.
Leafs fans hoped that their team would be fired up at the start of the second period, but it took only two minutes for Tom Gilbert to get the Panthers on the board first. The Leafs have been quick to tie up the game when finding themselves down by a goal or two this season. But they couldn’t generate any scoring opportunities and had trouble finding their rhythm. Although they did manage to get two breakaways, they were getting outshot 40-10 by the time the second period reached the halfway mark.
There was more of an effort and a slightly better start to the third frame for the Leafs than they did in previous periods, but a goal from Jessie Winchester put the Panthers up by two on a redirected shot from Brian Campbell. It seemed that the Panthers had all but put the game away just a few minutes later with another goal that would’ve made it 3-0. But the goal was disallowed after officials determined the puck didn’t go into the net.
The Leafs had been without David Clarkson for the better part of three weeks and they were glad to welcome him back after he finally got the Leafs within a goal just four minutes later. Clarkson’s goal seemed to give the Leafs a glimmer of hope that they could potentially tie the game. But with a little less than six minutes left, Shawn Matthias beat Bernier on a soft goal. The Leafs goalie was otherwise magnificent throughout the night. Despite being down 3-1, the Leafs decided to pull Bernier for the extra attacker. That led to Marcel Goc getting the empty netter, winning the game for the Panthers 4-1.
Leafs fans and Leafs dads are hoping they have a better effort as they continue their Florida road trip with a game against the Lightning on Thursday.
Leafs scorers: Clarkson (4)
Panthers scorers: Winchester (8), Matthias (6), Goc (10), Gilbert (3)
Goaltenders: Tim Thomas (Win), 60:00 minutes played, 21 saves, 1 GA, Bernier (Loss), 59:48 minutes played, 44 saves, 3 GA
Guest writer Pamela Yap is a Sheridan College post-grad in Journalism New Media and wrote for CBC during the 2012 London Olympics.