He wasn’t the only one who felt this way.
Sheldon Kev was equally upset after the Maple Leafs lost 3-2 to the Florida Panthers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Round 2 at Scotiabank Arena. Toronto trails 2-0 in the best-of-7 series that moves to FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida, for Game 3 on Sunday (6:30 p.m. ET; TBS, CBC, SN, TVAS).
The reality of the situation is that both Dupas, the general manager, and Keef, the coach, understand the Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup dreams just got tougher than the trip. Call it a missed opportunity.
So, after losing the first two games of this series at home, the season of hope, promise and optimism may have been dampened by a 66-second debacle to start the second half.
With the Maple Leafs down 2-1 coming into the break, a series of self-inflicted hiccups allowed the Panthers to be routed. Alexander Barkov to tie the game with 19 seconds per second before the forward Gustav Forsling He put Florida up 3-2 just 47 seconds after that.
When it was all over, Keefe looked frustrated, to say the least, when asked what happened in the early moments of this period.
“Disappointing, honestly,” he said. “We didn’t make these mistakes once in the last series.”
[RELATED: Complete Maple Leafs vs Panthers series coverage]
Toronto won six games against the Tampa Bay Lightning for their first playoff series win since 2004.
Overcoming this hurdle was supposed to be the mental boost the team needed. She is no longer haunted by past failures.
Except now, the Maple Leafs have to deal with a new scare, every 66 seconds of it.
Most concerning: The architects of Toronto’s demise included the Strikers William NylanderAnd Mitchell Marner And Austin Mathewsthe starting linebackers who suffered six straight losses in six years before helping to defeat Tampa Bay in the first round.
Nylander, having blew a tire near the Maple Leafs’ blue line, was lying helpless on the ice when Barkov unleashed a surprise shot into his own net. Ilya Samsonov to connect the game.
Less than a minute later, Marner made an ill-fated pass to Matthews on the Toronto blue line. The Maple Leafs were then stripped of the puck, and seconds later, Forsling converted the ball perfectly Matthew Tkachuk Feeding across the ice to put the cheetahs on for good.
For their part, the Maple Leafs pushed for the rest of the game. John TavaresAndy, their captain, hit the post twice in the second half. Panthers goalkeeper Sergey Bobrovsky He made 22 balls in the last 40 minutes, many of them astonishingly varied.
So, when all was said and done, it was those fateful 66 seconds that doomed the Maple Leafs to Game Two and, perhaps in fact, the series.
“That’s why it’s confusing,” Keefe said.
It was as if the coach was looking for answers that weren’t there.
Tavares had neither.
“Obviously we made two mistakes,” Tavares said of the chaotic start to the second foul. “Obviously we need to do a better job of looking after the disc, making sure we start the period the right way.
“Obviously he put us in a difficult situation. It’s something we have to be better with.”
Video: FLA @ TOR, Gm 2: Barkov and Forsling score 2, respectively
Perhaps the most revealing reaction to the loss came from Samsonov, who is constantly refreshed with his blunt answers, good or bad. He made 26 saves on Thursday, but he wasn’t happy with his or his team’s performance.
“Once again, the result is bad for us,” he said. “I think we all go home and look in the mirror, yeah, and ask, ‘What more can I do on the ice for the team to win?'” ” For everyone.”
Now, the current task becomes more difficult: win four of the next five games or go home.
“It’s a big chance for us, this time, as we need to show people that we’re a really good team, how hard we work, how we come back, 2-0, 3-0, it doesn’t matter. We’re a really good team,” Samsonov said.
While the Maple Leafs lamented their missed opportunity, the Panthers were relieved to go home. Game 2 was their fifth game in nine nights dating back to their seven-game elimination of the Boston Bruins in the first round. All five of those were win-or-go-home scenarios. Florida won all five.
On Thursday, the victory came due to a recipe for a sloppy holy grail that Toronto once again couldn’t handle, Bobrovsky’s incredible play and, most likely, a rousing pep talk from Panthers head coach Paul Morris.
So what did Morris actually say that got his team coming out of the first break with the gas pedal to the metal? Was it the kind of epic discourse that is the stuff of legends?
“It wasn’t funny,” he said. I turned on my mic from “Search for the Grail” [documentary]So my language wasn’t very good.
Morris’s message was simple: “Let’s keep fighting.”
His team did just that and he will go home with a defining advantage in the series.
To be fair, the Maple Leafs are definitely not going away. They’re a perfect 3-0 on the road this postseason, both of those wins coming in overtime in a hostile environment like Tampa’s Amalie Arena. Toronto has won four of the last five games in that series.
Now she has to do it again. Easier said than done.
“We all have to reflect on ourselves here,” Mabel Leafs forward Ryan O’Reilly He said. “The focus is the next match. We will win the next match [and] We take it from there.”
This is the most sensible path for Toronto to take. Because after losing the first two games at home, it almost ran out.
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