Maple leafs eliminated from NHL playoffs,losing 3-2 to Panthers
The Maple Leafs are out of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Nick Cousins scored at 15:32 of overtime and Sergei Bobrovsky made 50 saves as the Florida Panthers downed Toronto 3-2 to win the teams’ second-round playoff series 4-1.
Cousins buried his second goal of the playoffs off the rush shortside on Leafs rookie Joseph Woll in the extra period to send his team to the Eastern Conference final for the first time since 1996.
Aaron Ekblad and Carter Verhaeghe, with a goal and an assist each, provided the rest of the offence for the Panthers.
Florida — the team with the fewest points to qualify for the post-season — took all three games in Toronto and improved to 6-1 on the road this spring after also upsetting the record-setting Boston Bruins. The Panthers will meet the Carolina Hurricanes in the third round after they got past the New Jersey Devils in five games.
Morgan Rielly and Willian Nylander replied for the Leafs, who advanced in the playoffs for the first time in nearly two decades when they topped the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round.
Woll made 41 stops in his first home playoff start for Toronto, which faces an uncertain off-season despite its breakthrough against Tampa, after making 24 saves in Wednesday’s Game 4 that avoided the sweep.
Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas doesn’t have a contract beyond June 30, while there have also been rumblings about the future of head coach Sheldon Keefe.
Nylander and Auston Matthews both have one year remaining on their contracts and can sign extensions as of July 1, while fellow star forward Mitch Marner’s no-movement clause kicks in the same day.
Toronto’s high-powered offence — including the so-called “Core Four” of Matthews, Nylander, Marner and John Tavares — scored just three times in the series for a team that totalled just 14 goals over its final seven playoff games, including a paltry 10 against the Panthers.
The Leafs finished the post-season 1-5 at home.
This article was first reported by The Canadian Press