Nick Cousins scored at 15:32 of overtime and Sergei Bobrovsky made 50 saves as the Florida Panthers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 in Game 5 of their second-round playoff series on Friday to advance to the final of the Eastern Conference.
Aaron Ekblad and Carter Verhaeghe each had a goal and an assist to help the Panthers build a 2-0 first-period lead.
Morgan Rielly and William Nylander scored for the Maple Leafs, who had advanced to the playoffs for the first time in 19 years when they beat Tampa Bay in the first round. Rookie goaltender Joseph Woll had 41 saves in his first home playoff start.
In the extra period, Cousins buried his second playoff goal on shortside Woll to send the Panthers to the conference finals for the first time since 1996.
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Florida, the team with the fewest points to qualify for the postseason, won all three games in Toronto and improved to 6-1 on the road in the playoffs after defeating the record-setting Boston Bruins. The Panthers next face the Carolina Hurricanes, who also beat the New Jersey Devils in five games.
Woll was coming off a 24-save effort in a Game 4 victory that avoided the sweep.
THE STARS ARE CLOSER TO THE WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS WITH GAME 5 WIN OVER KRAKEN
The Maple Leafs now face an uncertain offseason despite their breakthrough against the Lightning. General manager Kyle Dubas is out of contract past June 30, while there have also been rumors about the future of coach Sheldon Keefe. Nylander and Auston Matthews have one year remaining on their contracts and can sign extensions starting July 1, while star forward Mitch Marner’s no-movement clause takes effect the same day.
Toronto’s high-powered offense, including the so-called «Core Four» of Matthews, Nylander, Marner and John Tavares, scored just three times in the series for a team that totaled just 14 goals in its last seven playoff games, including a measly 10 against the Panthers.
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The Leafs finished the postseason 1-5 at home.