Barkov completes hat-trick in overtime as the Panthers beat the Maple Leafs 4-3

For the first time this season, the Maple Leafs have now lost four out of five games. The latest being a 4-3 overtime defeat at the hands of the lowly Florida Panthers on Saturday night.

Toronto coach Mike Babcock said: “We weren’t good enough, that’s it. Didn’t play hard enough.”

When Aleksander Barkov completed his first career hat trick at 3:24 of the extra period with a backhand move on Frederik Andersen. The Leafs got what they deserved.

A mostly poor effort — the Leafs decided to start playing hockey in the final 10 minutes of regulation when they scored three goals and twice tied the game. This comes just two nights after the Leafs put in one of their best showings in 2018-19. When they were persistent and enthusiastic but scored just one goal in a 49-shot loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Losing to the Panthers, a team with that is eight points out of a playoff spot, comes with no excuses. Especially when you consider that Florida has won just four of their previous 15 games. Furthermore they are not far off the bottom of the overall National Hockey League standings. While the Leafs are near the top.

While it’s true that special teams were a large factor in the outcome, the Leafs didn’t exactly take charge while the teams were at even strength. Certainly not through two periods, a time when their depth mostly has seen them through games.

The Leafs didn’t score on four power plays. While the Panthers scored twice on four power plays.

Down 2-0 on goals by Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. The Leafs midway through the third period appeared to be heading to a regulation loss.

Toronto might have reminded themselves that they are superior to the Panthers. And finally, there was some desperation.

John Tavares tipped a Jake Gardiner shot past Roberto Luongo at 10:24 to get the Leafs fans in attendance out of their seats.

It was Tavares’ 20th goal, giving him at least 20 goals in all 10 of his NHL seasons.

At 16:21, Mitch Marner ended a 13-game streak without a goal when he beat Luongo high.

Barkov scored his second goal 27 seconds later. But there was Marner again at 18:20, getting the puck past a screened Luongo. Leafs goalkeeper, Andersen was on the bench in favor of an extra skater.

It was the third time Marner has scored two goals in an NHL game. Furthermore the first since last Feb. 10 against Ottawa.

The Leafs didn’t have a shot in overtime before Barkov scored his third of the game.

Toronto had a great chance to get themselves back in the game when Florida defenceman MacKenzie Weegar took a double minor for cross-checking at 11:56 of the second.

An enraged Weegar smashed his stick against the glass and was given a 10-minute misconduct. The Leafs could have used that kind of emotion on the four-minute power play.

Toronto was actually outshot 3-2 during the four minutes, and Andersen was forced to make a save on a Barkov breakaway.

Next up is a match-up against the New Jersey Devils.

Peace,

Burke

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