TORONTO—In a game featuring two teams that have turned over new leaves, the Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL doormats since 1967 topped the Florida Panthers, defending Atlantic Division Champions Tuesday night at Air Canada Centre.
Mentored by an Olympic Gold medal winning coach the rookie-laden Maple Leafs will make the playoffs this year with rookie of the year candidate Austin Matthews leading the way. Toronto built up a 3-1 lead which was quite comfortable until the Panthers Jaromir Jagr poked in a rebound for his 216th career power play goal to pull the Panthers within one score 56 seconds remaining. In a frustrating season without any miracles of note for Florida, one wasn’t in the cards for them this night either and the Leafs were soon celebrating victory.
The Panthers playoff odds were .03% or 3,333:1 BEFORE losing the game to Toronto, and Boston’s win didn’t help their cause either and made the odds even worse. With six games remaining, Florida can finish with a maximum of 89 points–a tall order under any circumstances when five of their six opponents are jockeying for position in the playoffs. At this point, maybe they can be spoilers.
As for the Legend, he now has 15 goals, 27 assists, 42 points on the year and 764 goals 1146 assists for 1910 assists for his career. He continues to play hard to impress the Panthers or whatever NHL team may choose to offer him a contract for next season. His return to Florida will depend on who is in charge in Florida, who is running the team and if the two can agree on the role for a player who was the team leader in points last season and will likely finish this season in fourth among the Panthers.
Stats and highlights from Florida vs. Toronto from nhl.com