Jonathan Marchessault’s first two-goal game in the National Hockey League was certainly bittersweet.
Marchessault continued his torrid start to the season for the Panthers, potting a pair of goals to give him five in his first seven games. But it still wasn’t enough to give the Panthers a badly needed win on the road.
Tyler Bozak scored a pair of goals and Mitch Marner added three assists to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 3-2 win over the Panthers on Thursday night at Air Canada Centre, spoiling another solid night for Marchessault.
“It don’t matter if you don’t win at the end of the game,” Marchessault said. “It’s disappointing. We need to win some games on the road; it’s not good enough for our group.”
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The Panthers had their chances to win, especially during a scoreless third period in which they carried the play. But Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen was sharp, making 29 saves as Toronto snapped a four-game home losing streak to Florida.
Bozak broke a 2-2 tie at 16:03 of the second period, taking a pass from Marner and tucking a shot past Florida goalie Roberto Luongo from the side of the net for what turned out to be the game-winning goal, snapping Toronto’s four-game losing streak overall.
Florida (3-3-1) lost its second game in a row and fourth in its past five at the hands of the rebuilding Leafs (2-2-3). The Panthers fell to 0-2-1 on the road this season.
“It’s a different team; they have a good future in front of them,” Marchessault said.
Panthers coach Gerald Gallant agreed but still felt the game was one his club could have won.
“We had some good chances,” Gallant said. “We played a pretty good hockey game but made some bad mistakes that cost us.
“[The Leafs] have a good, young team but we knew that; there were no surprises.”
Florida opened the scoring at 6:55 of the opening period when Marchessault converted a pass from Jaromir Jagr off a 2-on-1 from the face-off circle to give the Panthers the early lead.
The Leafs tied the game late in the first period, however, as Bozak floated a shot over the shoulder of Luongo at 18:56 off a scramble in front, his second goal of the season.
Marchessault put Florida in front again with a power-play goal at 3:35 of the second period — with Luongo picking up an assist — drilling a shot from the face-off circle past Andersen.
But the Leafs again tied the game at 10:26 of the second when James Van Riemsdyk took a pass from Marner and beat Luongo in close on a backhand to make it 2-2. Van Riemsdyk increased his goal-scoring streak to three games, the longest of his career.
The Panthers pulled Luongo for an extra attacker with one minute left and dominated most of the third period, but they failed to get the equalizer.
“We got some good goaltending [Thursday night], and that makes all the difference,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. “We turned over the puck a lot, but overall the effort was good.
“We haven’t won many games, so it was good to hang on to this one.”
It was only the Leafs’ fourth win in their past 13 meetings against the Panthers, who outshot the Leafs 31-28 on Thursday night.