Panthers top Maple Leafs, take Game 1 of second-round series
TORONTO - Sergei Bobrovsky made 34 saves, Matthew Tkachuk had three assists and the Florida Panthers survived a squandered two-goal lead to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 in the opening game of their second-round playoff series.
Sam Bennett had a goal and an assist and Carter Verhaeghe and Nick Cousins also scored for Florida. Aleksander Barkov had two assists.
Matthew Knies had his first NHL goal and Michael Bunting also scored for Toronto. Ilya Samsonov stopped 24 shots.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is Thursday.
The Panthers had roared back from a 3-1 deficit to stun the record-setting Boston Bruins with three straight victories and take that first-round series in seven games.
The Maple Leafs ended a generation of misery Saturday when John Tavares scored in overtime of Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning as Toronto advance in the postseason for the first time since 2004.
Apart from scoring the overtime goal that gave the Maple Leafs their first series win in 19 years, the Toronto captain and his wife recently welcome their third child, a daughter named Rae.
“An absolute whirlwind for him,” Toronto center Ryan O’Reilly said before the game.
MAURICE LOOKS BACK
Panthers head coach Paul Maurice was behind the bench when the Carolina Hurricanes topped the Maple Leafs in the 2002 Eastern Conference final.
“I don’t think we gave up a five-on-five goal in that series,” he said. “That was back in when you could get away with clutching and grabbing.
“We were really good at it.”