Takeaways as Panthers’ game-winning shootout goal is overturned in loss to Maple Leafs

The Florida Panthers thought they had just beaten the Toronto Maple Leafs in a shootout. Evan Rodrigues’ fifth-round shot got past Toronto’s Joseph Woll and most of the team was already on its way to the dressing room.

One problem: The goal didn’t count. The referees ultimately ruled Rodrigues double-tapped the puck, which isn’t allowed in the shootout.

“Unfortunate,” Rodrigues said.

One round later, Florida’s fate was flipped.

Noah Gregor’s sixth-round shot made it into the net. Nick Cousins’ was stopped.

And like that, the Panthers went from a 2-1 win over the Maple Leafs to a 2-1 loss at Scotiabank Arena.

Florida falls to 13-7-2 on the season and drops its first shootout of the season. Toronto improves to 11-6-3.

Toronto’s Auston Matthews scored in the second round of the sudden-death, post-overtime shootout and Florida’s Sam Reinhart scored in the third round to extend the action. Max Domi and Matthew Tkachuk both whiffed in the fourth round before it appeared that Rodrigues won it in the fifth round before the goal was overturned and then Gregor sealed it in Round 6.

The shootout loss came one day after the Panthers beat the Ottawa Senators 5-0 on Monday to start their three-game road trip.

As for regulation, Kevin Stenlund opened scoring for the Panthers with 4:31 left in the first period on a third effort in front of the net after Toronto goaltender Woll stopped shot attempts from Aaron Ekblad and Jonah Gadjovich.

Gregor then tied the game when he scooped up the puck in the neutral zone and popped a wrist shot on an uncontested breakaway past Florida’s Anthony Stolarz with 7:06 remaining in the second period.

Beyond those two goals, it was a stellar night in net for both goaltenders. Stolarz made 31 saves, including stopping 12 of 13 high-danger shots. In five starts this season, Stolarz is 3-1-1 with a .929 save percentage.

Woll stopped 37 of 38 shots he faced for Toronto.

Here are three takeaways from the game.

Perfect penalty kill... again

For a second consecutive night, the Panthers’ penalty kill was a perfect 6 for 6.

This included a double-minor incurred by Gadjovich for a high stick with 3:04 left in regulation. After three solid minutes from the Panthers’ penalty killers, Toronto was called for too many men on the ice, which negated the rest of the Maple Leaf’s power play as the game headed to overtime.

Over the past five games, Florida has killed off all 20 opponent power-play opportunities.

Kevin Stenlund’s career year continues

Stenlund’s first-period goal was his sixth of the season.

That ties his single-season career-high in just 22 games played with the Panthers. He also had six goals in 54 games with the Winnipeg Jets during the 2022-23 season and in 32 games during the 2019-2020 season with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Additionally, Stenlund’s six goals are tied with Aleksander Barkov for the third-most on the team. Only Reinhart (15) and Carter Verhaeghe (nine) have more.

One more in Canada

After an off day on Wednesday, the Panthers close their three-game swing in Canada with a game against the Montreal Canadiens (9-10-2) on Thursday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.

This will be the first of four meetings between Florida and Montreal. The Panthers will host the Canadiens on Dec. 30 and Feb. 29 before returning to Montreal on April 2 as part of the Panthers’ final road trip of the regular season.