Leafs' playoff run ends with heartbreaking OT loss to Panthers

May 13 2023, 2:41 am

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ playoff run has come to an end.

The Leafs were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers in Game 5 of their second-round series at Scotiabank Arena on Friday.

Nick Cousins scored off the rush with just under five minutes remaining in the first OT period to win the series for Florida.

The game went to overtime thanks to William Nylander, who scored to tie the game at 2-2 with less than five minutes remaining in the third period.

 

The season-ending loss came with some controversy in the form of a potential game-tying goal from Morgan Rielly that didn’t count.

With the Maple Leafs trailing the Panthers 2-1 and just under three minutes remaining in the second period, Rielly drove the puck to the net and thought he had tucked it past Sergei Bobrovsky to tie the game.

However, with the puck under Bobrovsky and not visible to the officials, they blew the play down and signaled no goal. A lengthy review also couldn’t find definitive evidence the puck crossed the line before the play was blown down and the no goal call on the ice stood.

While the puck was shown fully across the line at one point, it appeared to have been kicked over the line by Bobrovsky while he was standing up after the play was dead.

Needless to say, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas had a different perspective on the call.

Florida got off to a quick start in this one. On an early power play, an Aaron Ekblad shot squeezed through Joseph Woll to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.

Carter Verhaeghe’s fifth goal of the playoffs would extend the lead to 2-0 before the end of the opening frame.

Rielly did score a goal that counted in this game. Just about eight minutes into the second period, Rielly took a shot from the blue line that deflected off Cousins and in to bring Toronto back within a goal.

Rielly finished the playoffs second in scoring on the Leafs with 12 points (4 G, 8 A) in 11 games.

The Maple Leafs lost all three games on home ice in this series and finished with an overall home record of 1-5 in these playoffs.

As for the Panthers, they advance to the Eastern Conference final for just the second time in franchise history and the first time since 1996. They will take on the Carolina Hurricanes.

Jack WeberJack Weber

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