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Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander skates with the puck against Florida Panthers defenseman Gustav Forsling in the third period at Scotiabank Arena on May 2. Neither Nylander nor forwards Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner or John Tavares have a goal in three straight losses to the Panthers.Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

With their season in jeopardy, the Maple Leafs started overtime on Sunday with the third line. No Auston Matthews. No Mitch Marner. No John Tavares. No William Nylander.

The coach that has shuffled lines like a deck of cards recently suddenly decided not to mix nor match.

“It’s not atypical,” Sheldon Keefe said after the 3-2 loss that left his team a hair’s breadth from elimination.

He didn’t want to call out his top players but under the circumstances it was just that. Not a single one has found the back of the net in three losses to the Florida Panthers.

Keefe had Ryan O’Reilly, who has won something in his career, take the faceoff. He won it over Sam Bennett.

From there, things went to hell.

Over the next 90 seconds, Toronto iced the puck three times.

There was a takeaway by Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk and a minute later a giveaway by Morgan Rielly. Then T.J. Brodie made a defensive error and let Sam Reinhart loose behind the net for an uncontested wraparound that beat Joseph Woll. Three minutes and two seconds and rubber rats were being tossed onto the ice at FLA Live Arena.

End of game. Almost certainly end of season. End of the overtime magic that the Maple Leafs used three times to bounce Tampa Bay out of the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Toronto accomplished something by winning a postseason series for the first time in 19 years but for most everyone else that is a low bar. And it will be overshadowed by a four-game sweep or a five-game concession to the No. 8 seed in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.

The Maple Leafs entered the second round favoured to win their first Stanley Cup in 56 years. As of Monday they have the longest odds. They finished 19 points ahead of the Panthers in the Atlantic Division standings but have been outplayed by them.

On Sunday night a headline on Sportsnet said “Panthers Shock the Hockey World” by grabbing a 3-0 lead. It is a bit of a surprise but not shocking at all. History and years of underperforming in critical situations say so.

Think about how this disaster of a series has unfurled. Try to find a player in blue and white that has distinguished himself. Perhaps Matthew Knies until Bennett roughed him up in Game 2. Other than that there are none. Florida has a handful, starting with goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

In the first two games against Vegas, Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid had eight goals between them. Michael Bunting, Knies, Alexander Kerfoot, O’Reilly, Sam Lafferty and Erik Gustafsson have one apiece for the Maple Leafs. That’s it.

On Sunday, Gustafsson and David Kampf led the team with three shots each. Kampf was their best player. He set up a goal and went 13-1 in faceoffs.

Matthews, Marner, Nylander and Tavares generated seven shots combined. That is a US$40.5-million no-show – for three games, not just one.

The Panthers forecheck like crazy and were very disciplined in Game 3. They allowed few opportunities but when those arose Bobrovsky made the necessary stops.

Toronto had 14 giveaways and took two penalties. In an unfortunate confluence of events, one especially added to its demise.

Early in the second period Luke Schenn was called for tripping Carter Verhaeghe and at the same time slid into Ilya Samsonov in the Maple Leafs’ net. Samsonov left the game injured and with that Joseph Woll was summoned off the bench.

With one second left in the power play, Anthony Duclair streaked down the ice, received a perfect pass from Aaron Ekblad and dusted off Jake McCabe and Calle Jarnkrok before he easily beat the defenceless Woll.

That tied the score 1-1. The Maple Leafs would also lead 2-1 but coughed that up, too.

Now they are in a hole that few ever emerge from. Only four teams – including Toronto – have come back from a 3-0 deficit. The Maple Leafs did it 81 years ago.

Marner had an especially terrible game. The official box score says otherwise but he gave away the puck multiple times in the first period.

Matthews hit the post with a shot in the opening seconds and was rarely heard from again.

Mark Giordano, a stalwart on defence during the regular season, was limited to less than eight minutes of ice time. He has had a difficult series. Schenn ended up with more than 19 minutes. Admirable, but not optimal.

With two days before Game 4, Toronto took the day off on Monday. Florida practised. You would have figured it the other way around.

In a brief availability, Keefe said that Samsonov felt better on Monday but was going to have an MRI later in the day. If he is unavailable, Woll will start.

“You look at the hole we are in and it’s overwhelming,” Keefe said. “There are a lot of things going against you. We have to win and gain some momentum and go from there.

“Right now the Panthers are very comfortable. It’s our job to make them less comfortable.”

It is a hard truth but still a truth.

The Maple Leafs did not lose Sunday because Samsonov got hurt. If they lose the series it is because they have not been good enough.

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