Panthers’ Sam Bennett sparks controversy with Maple Leafs in Game 2 – fans erupt in outrage

Sam Bennett has been having a busy playoffs so far. During Round One against the Boston Bruins, Bennett scored seven points in seven games but did more than just goals and assists. Bennett is an intense player, constantly battling in front of the goal and close to his opponents.

In the Boston series, Bennett was the victim of a brutal slashing from Charlie McAvoy after he tried to poke goalie Linus Ullmark after a save. But Bennett can also hand out hard hits and cheap shots, and Game 2 of the second-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs proves it. He’s currently the No. 1 villain in Toronto after two controversial incidents.

Although Bennett didn’t record a point in Game 2, he was the talk of the town after Game 2. Halfway through the first period, Bennett took a grip around Maple Leafs rookie forward Matthew Knies behind the het. Bennett roughed him down on the ice, and it was obvious that Knies was in pain. Knies stayed in the lineup through the first period, but he didn’t return to the game after the intermission.

Sheldon Keefe didn’t have the details after the game, but he said that it was ”not positive” when asked about Knies’ condition. 

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Bennett wasn’t done playing edgy after that. In the second period, he cross-checked Michael Bunting in the head, for which he was assessed a two-minute minor. Bunting stayed in the game, but the Maple Leafs were furious that Bennett wasn’t assessed a game misconduct.

Postgame, Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe made comparisons between Bennett’s cross-check and Auston Matthew’s cross-check on Rasmus Dahlin last year. Matthews earned a two-game suspension for it, and Keefe feels Bennett deserves it as well.

When Matthew Tkachuk was asked about a potential further discipline for Bennett for his play on Knies, all he could do was laugh.

“I do not think he will hear from player safety on that, no,” Tkachuk said.

On social media, Toronto fans were outraged by Bennett’s behavior and the referees’ decisions during Game 2. We can’t wait for what Game 3 has to offer.

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