Maple Leafs forward Matthew Knies leaves Game 2 against Panthers due to injury

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TORONTO — The Toronto Maple Leafs lost forward Matthew Knies to injury in a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.

Knies was roughed up behind the net by Florida's Sam Bennett midway through the first period and did not return to the game after the intermission.

Bennett bodychecked Knies into the boards and used his right arm to drive him downward as both players fell to the ice. Knies appeared dazed after the play and was slow to get to his feet.

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"I don't have an update on his status," said Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe. "Obviously he didn't complete the game so that's not positive. In terms of the hit, I'm not going to comment on that."

The team announced early in the second period that Knies would not return. Specifics on the injury were not revealed.

"I think he tried to hit me, jumped out of the way, got tied up in my arm there," Bennett said. "That was pretty much it on that one."

The win gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven second-round series. Florida will host Game 3 on Sunday.

Knies scored his first career NHL goal in Toronto's 4-2 loss to the Panthers in Game 1 on Tuesday.

"I didn't love it, obviously, and then (it) results in an injury," Maple Leafs forward John Tavares said of the play. "We've just got to keep playing and pushing forward, stay disciplined and keep working for opportunities and stand our ground when necessary."

Knies, 20, was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award given to the top player in U.S. men's college hockey. He had 42 points in 40 games for the NCAA's Golden Gophers this season.

He joined the Maple Leafs late in the regular season on an entry-level deal and had one assist in three games. Knies has four points (1-3) in seven playoff games.

Knies was selected by Toronto with the 57th pick of the 2021 NHL draft. The Phoenix, Ariz., native has represented the United States at the world juniors and the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

Panthers defenceman Josh Mahura left the game late in the second period. He was bloodied after William Nylander's shot from the point hit him in the helmet visor but he returned in the third period.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 4, 2023.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press