Florida Panthers (33-26-14) at Toronto Maple Leafs (27-41-6)
|Date & Time||Thursday March 26, 2015, 7:30 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Toronto Maple Leafs / Florida Panthers --- Over/Under:
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+. Start your 7-day FREE trial today!|
The Florida Panthers looked like they were going to find a way pull off a huge come from behind victory on Tuesday night, but instead it turned out to be a crushing defeat.
Florida is battling for their playoff lives and can’t afford to lose any points, but the way their match with the Tampa Bay Lightning played out might be too much for them to overcome.
Trailing 2-0 heading into the second period the Panthers finally found their game. Jussi Jokinen’s seventh goal of the season got the Panthers on the board, and just 18 seconds later it was Brandon Pirri tying things up with his 18th of the year. Jonathan Huberdeau would put the Panthers in the front for the first time on the night with his 12th goal of the season coming less than two minutes later. The lead lasted into the third period, but the Panthers couldn’t put the Lightning away.
Tampa Bay rallied to tie the game early in the third period, and with just over a few minutes remaining in regulation the Lightning put the dagger in Florida’s heart when Ryan Callahan scored the eventual game winner.
Not only did the Panthers fail to get a crucial victory, but they were unable to even secure a point. The regulation loss keeps them five points behind the Ottawa Senators for the final wild card berth in the Eastern Conference with just nine games remaining on their schedule.
The good news for the Panthers is that they get a chance to play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night. If there’s one team that a club desperate for points wants to see on their schedule right now, it has to be the Maple Leafs.
Toronto looks like they’ve checked out on this season long ago, and almost everyone inside the organization knows that there are going to be some significant changes coming. The addition of Brendan Shanahan to the front office has done little to change the culture surrounding this team, and the losses just continue to pile up.
Make it six straight losses, nine of their last 10, and 11 of their last 13 for the Maple Leafs. Watching them play is a chore for anyone who appreciates the game of hockey, because this club does almost nothing right. The defense is nonexistent, the goaltending is putrid, and the forwards have all but disappeared.
Monday against Minnesota the Maple Leafs couldn’t even take advantage of a Wild club that didn’t look ready to play. Toronto trailed 1-0 heading into the third period and couldn’t overcome the deficit despite out shooting the Wild 18-5 during the frame. Jonathan Bernier stopped 30 shots in the 2-1 defeat.
It’s just impossible to take the Maple Leafs at any point right now. They’ll still find a way to win a couple more games this season because that’s the way hockey works, but willingly putting your money on this club in any situation is not the way to go right now.