The Maple Leafs on Friday were eliminated by Florida Panthers in five games, losing 3-2 in overtime. Thanks to a goal from Nick Cousins at 15:32, which beat the Maple Leafs goaltender on the short end.
Cousins got his second goal of the playoffs to send his team to the Eastern Finals for the first time since 1996.
“It’s one of those moments that I’m going to tell my kids about later. My daughter is only 11 months old, so I know I’ll tell her later. It’s a big goal and a great moment for our team,” Cousins said.
“A lot of people didn’t really have expectations of us, including a few Leafs fans before this series. We didn’t hear much of their singing at the end so it’s a good feeling,” Panthers Winger Matthew Tkachuk said.
The Panthers now face the Carolina Hurricanes in the Eastern Final. They amassed 92 points in the regular season – the lowest total among clubs in the playoffs this season.
Following this elimination, the offensive performance of the Leafs’ studs risks being singled out. Auston Matthews and John Tavares both went scoreless in this series.
William Nylander with two goals in the final two games of the series and Mitch Marner in Game 4 were the only Leafs guns to find the back of the net in this game.
“I think we should be proud of the rest of us. It starts with Bob in goal. He was amazing as soon as the show started.”Panthers winger Anthony Duclair said.
“It’s everyone’s job, the four lines, all the defenders. We did not give space to their big players,” he added.
The Maple Leafs can at least take comfort in the summer of ending the curse of the first round, as they finally won a playoff round for the first time in 19 years.
During overtime, the Maple Leafs had successfully served a penalty that was assessed to TJ Brodie, who ended up in jail for accidentally sending the puck into the stands near the blue line.
The Leafs have been mediocre at home in the playoffs as evidenced by their 1-5 record in front of their fans. They’ve only managed 14 goals in their last seven playoff games.