Maple Leafs Report Cards: An F-worthy performance puts Toronto on the brink of elimination

The Toronto Maple Leafs now need a miracle.

An overtime winner gave Sam Reinhart a 3-2 win on Sunday and a 3-0 lead in the series. An impressive performance by Josef Wall wasn’t enough to secure a road win when they needed it most. Toronto never trailed before an overtime winner, but Florida outscored them five-on-five, and the Leafs never had a power play. While a few players impressed, Toronto’s $10 million forwards didn’t look like a $10 million forward. Toronto needed to be the most desperate team, but it was Florida who deserved to win.


The first star

Joseph Wall

Wall entered the game in the first minute of the second half and had to start with a penalty kick. He made a sweet stop on Sam Bennett almost immediately, but Anthony Dockler beat him to a breakaway to tie the game:

It was a nice move and he went into the game cold, so it’s hard to blame Wall for that. He made 11 saves in the period, including another chance to break away from Duclair, but was again knocked down by a deflection from Carter Verhaig midway through the second period. Again, the point was not on him:

Wall kept the score at 2-2 going into the second break, making a dramatic save from Brandon Montour with 10 seconds left in the frame. He single-handedly brought the Leafs into overtime with massive save after big save in the third period:

He gave his team a chance to win.

The second star

Sam Lafferty

Laverty remained in the lineup at the expense of Zach Aston Race and Wayne Symonds, and his coach immediately rewarded this decision. He opened the scoring after two and a half minutes after David Kampf found him with a cross-ice pass in a two-on-one rush. His goal seemed to give him some extra confidence, and he had another two-on-one chance with Kämpf midway through the second half.

The third star

David Kampf

Kämpf got a baseline assist by shooting a pass to Lafferty on a two-on-one. He was a factor in Toronto’s second goal as well, going to the net looking to tap. Erik Gustafsson’s pass never reached him, but was deflected off a defender’s stick and into the net. He won his first 10 fights and seemed to be winning puck fight after puck fight.


Player reports

a-

William Nylander

Nylander was one of Toronto’s best starting players, even though he didn’t make it to the goalscoring list. Both teams failed to create many dangerous chances during those minutes, but he had a number of impressive entries and showed his ability to protect defenders on the course. He was finally rewarded in the second, making an impressive insert as teammates changed hands before sending the puck to Gustafsson to catch an assist. He was easily one of his team’s best players.

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b +

Noel Accari

He picked off the NHL’s post-season leader in strikeouts only three, but his streak was solid defensively. He made a nice defensive play on Sam Bennett in overtime and shut out Florida’s best forwards during his minutes.

B

Calle Jarnkrok

Järnkrok played a solid game on the forward check in his opening shift to win back possession. He then found Jake McCabe with a cross at the end of the first, but his teammate was unable to convert. Other than that, his attendance during his two periods was relatively uneventful.

Morgan Riley

Riley extended his score streak to eight matches by serving Kampf and Lafferty in a two-legged match. He sent the same players in a two-legged match in the second but took a penalty kick in the last minutes. He had no target against him.

B-

Alex Kerfoot

Kerfoot finished with 17:22 of ice time, and hit the “third assist” on Toronto’s opening goal. His defensive line was good, but he didn’t create many scoring opportunities.

Luke Shin

Shane made an extended pass to send Auston Matthews into a two-footer in the opening seconds, but hit the post. The Panthers striker raised the baton to stop a dangerous chance at the end of the first period, but took a penalty and collided with Ilya Samsonov to start the second. He struggled a bit in overtime, icing the puck twice in the opening minutes.

c

Justin Hall

Hall was playing for Florida’s goal, but I blame McCabe. He made a well-timed pinch that led to a good opportunity for Matthews in the third but also had a rough turnover soon after:

Ryan O’Reilly

The O’Reilly line was strong defensively in the opening period, and they spent most of their minutes in the offensive zone. They failed to convert offensive zone time into dangerous chances, but they were certainly a net positive. His second period was the exact same story, but he delivered one of the worst gifts of his career late in the third and Wall had to save him to send the game into overtime.

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Michael Bunting

Bunting’s line was not effective in the first two periods. It wasn’t necessarily his fault, but when you’re playing Matthews and Marner, there are high expectations. He got off to a better start in the third, finding Matthews in the hole after five minutes, but his teammate was unable to capitalize.

Eric Gustafson

Gustafsson made his first appearance in the series as Sheldon Keefe picked an 11-7 lineup, playing only 2:36 in the first. His minutes were eventful in the second, as he scored to give the Leafs a seven-minute lead. He tried to find Kamf up front, but his pass was deflected off the cannon stick and into:

His offensive skill came to the fore, but he bobbled down the offensive blue line later on and Duclair was given a chance to break away. He dribbled the puck again at the offensive blue line midway into the third and was lucky he wasn’t called for a penalty. He then put a pass into TJ Brodie’s skates with six minutes left, forcing a big save by Wall.

Dr

Lockdown Husband (Jake McCabe and TJ Brody)

McCabe was shaky at the start, with a couple of turnovers that resulted in a lot of defensive zone time. He had a good chance in a two-legged game at the end of the period but was unable to convert. However, he failed to cover Duclair in the neutral zone to start the second, and the Panthers tied the game up with a separate goal. Brodie was running as an overtime winner and wasn’t exactly stellar on the play.

Dr-

John Tavares

Tavares didn’t spend much time in the attacking zone initially, but he made a great penetrating pass to send his teammates two players for one. However, his team gave up within minutes in the first two periods, not offering enough offense.

Austin Mathews

Matthews hit the bar from two to twenty-one seconds in but was quiet in the opening period. He got off to a rough start in the second, being unable to deepen the puck, and the Panthers quickly turned the puck into a two-on-one. While Florida did not score on the play, Shinn took a punt during the sequence and the Panthers scored on the resulting power play. Samsonov is also injured in the play.

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Matthews was on the ice for Florida’s second goal and was covering Verhaeghe when he shot a point past Wall. He made a powerful puck-stealing play from Aaron Ekblad at the end of the second, then put up a strong defensive play soon after. However, the Leafs fell through the minutes, and he did not have a shot on goal until the third period. Ponting found him in the hole five minutes into the third, but Sergei Bobrovsky made a wonderful save.

F

Mitch Marner

The Leafs nursed through Marner’s minutes and had a number of turnovers that led to two opposing chances. The lack of penalties from either side restricted his minutes, but he was largely invisible.

MIA

Mark Giordano

Giordano played only 7:47. He took three stunning shots, but it didn’t make any kind of difference.

incomplete

Ilya Samsonov

Samchonov stopped all seven shots he faced in the first and stayed on his toes. The Panthers missed the net several times, and most of the period was spent in the Toronto end.

He made a big stop on Duclair in the first minute of the second, but was injured when Luke Schenn collided with him a second later. Not anymore but it deserves a high score for its limited performance.


The result


Final grade: F

The Leafs needed to look like the most desperate team, but they only scored 13 shots in the first forty minutes. They didn’t get strong, and both Matthews’ line and Tavares’ line struggled to get into the offensive zone. O’Reilly played a solid shutdown minutes before his terrible gift in the third, but William Nylander was the only superstar who looked dangerous. Given the performances of both Samsonov and Woll, the Leafs should have been able to pull this game off.

They just can’t seem to take it as a must-win game, and now they’re going to have to win four must-win games in a row. Toronto needed Matthews, Marner, Tavares and O’Reilly to lead the way offensively, not Lafferty and Kampf. It wasn’t a huge loss, and some guys played really well individually, but collectively I can only give them a F grade.


What’s next for The Leafs?

Game four is on Wednesday at 7 p.m. on Sportsnet.

(Photo: Sam Navarro/USA Today)

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