Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Maple Leafs Sting Panthers

     The Florida Panthers returned home to begin a three-game homestand and lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2 on Tuesday night at BB&T Center. The Panthers dropped to second place in the Atlantic Division. Nazem Kadri compiled a hat trick for the Leafs in the victory. Both teams will meet again six days from now in Toronto.
     In the first period, Toronto(28-37-11) had two scoring opportunities during the Panthers second power play of the contest. Michael Grabner missed wide left with a shot as he skated in alone on Roberto Luongo. The Maple Leafs broke out of their zone 20 seconds later on a two-on-one breakaway. Grabner came down the left side and passed to his right to Connor Brown. He returned the puck to him in the slot and Grabner scored on a high wrist shot against his former team at 15:11. It was just the second shorthanded goal by the Leafs this season.
     Florida(42-25-9) would tie it 1-1 at 6:23 of the second period. Aleksander Barkov sent a lead pass to Jonathan Hubeadeau as he entered the Maple Leafs zone on the right side. He carried it in through the right circle on a two-on-one before he released a snap shot by Jonathan Bernier for his 16th goal of the season.
     The Maple Leafs regained the lead 2-1 at 10:36 on their second power play of the game. Milan Michalek got the rebound on the right side of the crease and backhanded a pass between his legs to Kadri across the crease. He swept in the puck for his 15th tally of the campaign.
     The Leafs added another goal on their second straight power play with 1:46 left in the period. Brown was in the low slot and found Kadri on the left side of the crease. He faked a forehand shot before he connected with a backhand shot for his second goal of the frame.
     The Panthers surrendered another power-play goal to Toronto 6:34 of the third period. Jake Gardiner fed the puck from the left point to P.A. Parenteau. He then fired a high snap shot from the top right circle for his 19th goal of the season.
     Florida cut the deficit to 4-2 as Greg McKegg was able to score his first NHL goal at 11:26. Teddy Purcell and Alex Petrovic were credited with assists on the play.
     Kadri got his third goal of the contest for the hat trick with 2:39 remaining as he scored into an empty net. It was the third time for Kadri to complete a hat trick in his NHL career.

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