Lucas Viveiros | Report

Under 24 hours after a statement win over the NHL’s best, the Toronto Maple Leafs were outclassed by a hungrier team on Friday evening, losing to the Florida Panthers by a final score of 3-1.

Due to the game being a back-to-back, Garret Sparks was back in between the pipes for the Buds, and things seemed to start off on the right foot. Sparks made a couple of stops in the opening few minutes before Ron Hainsey beat Luongo with a slap-shot on the Leafs first shot of the game to make it 1-0 Toronto.

Following some exciting four-on-four play between these two speedy teams, Florida would even up the tilt, as Jake Gardiner (everyone’s favourite to blame) would receive a tough back pass from Nikita Zaitsev and turn the puck over to the Cats. The relentless forecheck would see Nick Bjugstad feed d-man Keith Yandle who would fire a hard shot that would be tipped by Mike Hoffman to even the contest at one’s.

The Panthers wouldn’t lie down there however, as they would receive more notable contributions from their back end later in the period. There next tally would come at 14:59 of the first period, when some quick puck movement ended up in the back of the Maple Leafs net. On the goal, Jonathan Huberdeau would spot Vincent Trocheck who would set up a one-timer from Panthers defensemen Mike Matheson, which would beat a screened Garret Sparks to put Florida up 2-1.

The remainder of the tilt would be seen as a goaltending battle between Luongo and Sparks, with both goalies not giving shooters any opening between their goal.

Sparks would finish the game with 26 saves on 28 shots, while Luongo stopped 20 of a possible 21 on the evening.

The Panthers would add an empty netter, scored by Frank Vatrano, as they would claim the two points in the 3-1 victory.

Revisit the game’s highlights below.

Up next, the Maple Leafs will return home to welcome the Arizona Coyotes to Toronto on Sunday night.

Game time is set for 7:00pm from Scotiabank Arena, and can be seen on Sportsnet.

More news from the ice

  • The Maple Leafs sit just a point ahead of the Bruins and Canadiens for second place in the Atlantic division (home ice in the first round)
  • Ron Hainsey’s goal was his fourth of the season, matching his entire output from last year’s campaign
  • Panthers d-man Josh Brown made his NHL debut

Out of town scoreboard

Friday, January 18

Montreal 4 Columbus 1

NY Islanders 2 Washington 0

Ottawa 4 Carolina 1

Detroit 4 Calgary 6

Pittsnurgh 3 Arizona 2 (OT)

Buffalo 3 Vancouver 4


More coverage to follow. Image from Sportsnet.

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