Gregor, Woll lead Leafs over Panthers 2-1 in a shootout
Toronto Maple Leafs centre Noah Gregor (18) celebrates his goal against Florida Panthers goaltender Anthony Stolarz with teammates David Kampf (64) and Conor Timmins (25) during second period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, November 28, 2023 10:25PM EST
TORONTO - Noah Gregor scored the shootout winner as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Florida Panthers 2-1 on Tuesday.
Gregor also had the goal in regulation for Toronto (11-6-3). Joseph Woll stopped 37 shots through 65 minutes.
Kevin Stenlund replied for Florida (13-7-2), which picked up a fight-filled 5-0 victory in Ottawa on Monday. Anthony Stolarz made 31 saves.
Evan Rodrigues appeared to have won the shootout for Florida in the fifth round, but was judged to have touched the puck twice on his effort following video review.
With some of the Panthers still making their way back to the ice, Gregor scored in the sixth round before Nick Cousins hit the post to seal it for Toronto.
The Leafs suited up on home ice for the first time since Nov. 11 after picking up two victories in Stockholm as part of the NHL Global Series. Toronto then embarked on a two-game road trip (0-1-1) through Chicago and Pittsburgh upon returning to North America.
Looking to spark a stagnant offence, Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe split up struggling star forwards Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner against Florida.
Matthews played with William Nylander and Matthew Knies, while Marner skated alongside John Tavares and Tyler Bertuzzi.
Woll held the sluggish Leafs in it early before the Panthers, who ended Toronto's playoffs in the same building last spring in the second round before eventually falling to the Vegas Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup final, opened the scoring at 15:29 of the first when Stenlund scored his sixth.
Nylander hit the post and the crossbar in quick succession in the second, including one with Stolarz down and out as Toronto started to show signs of life.
Florida centre Sam Bennett - a post-season villain from a Leafs perspective for taking out Knies in last spring's second-round series - then dropped the gloves with Leafs winger Max Domi before the home side tied it up.
Gregor raced in on Stolarz and roofed his third at 12:54 after Panthers defenceman Dmitry Kulikov had the puck bounce over his stick at the offensive blue line.
The Florida goaltender stopped Tavares on a 2-on-1 with Bertuzzi midway through the third to keep things even before Woll stopped Cousins from in tight.
Panthers forward Jonah Gadjovich was assessed a double minor for high-sticking on Gregor with 3:04 left in regulation, but Florida killed that off until Toronto was whistled for its eighth penalty for too many men on the ice this season with 5.3 seconds remaining on the clock.
The opening period saw both Marner and defenceman Mark Giordano depart for Toronto. Marner took a shot up high, but was back for the start of the second sporting a full cage. Giordano (upper-body injury) didn't return.
Leafs general manager Brad Treliving spoke with reporters following Monday's practice and confirmed John Klingberg is dealing with a hip issue. The blueliner was placed on long-term injured reserve last week. Treliving said the organization expects to soon have some clarity on Klingberg's path forward.
Florida defencemen Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour each played their sixth games of the campaign. Both players missed the first 16 contests following off-season shoulder surgery.
The Leafs and Panthers hit the ice for the 328th game of the 2023-24 season, which represented the quarter mark of the NHL schedule.
Toronto hosts Seattle on Thursday, while Florida visits Montreal.
This report was first published Nov. 28, 2023.