SUNRISE — Sergei Bobrovsky was not the reason the Florida Panthers failed to close out the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 4 on Wednesday.
Not even close.
Bobrovsky stopped 23 of 25 shots but fell just short of his seventh consecutive playoff win as the offense in front of him put on a less-than-stellar showing in a 2-1 loss to the Leafs.
“I can’t blame him,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “He’s been solid. He’s been important.”
Bobrovsky was probably the only reason the Panthers were in the game in the first place.
“He has been doing that for a lot longer than tonight,” Sam Reinhart said. “That is what you need from your goalie at this time of the year.”
The two-time Vezina winner is 6-1-0 with a .921/2.62 since the Panthers started their comeback against the Boston Bruins in Game 5 of the first round.
Bobrovsky has yet to allow more than two goals in the second round against the Maple Leafs, standing at 3-1-0 with a .934/1.99.
The two goals Bobrovsky allowed on Wednesday night had little to do with him.
William Nylander’s opening goal came his way on a fluky bounce off the referee which hit him on the tape of this stick 3:27 into the second period.
Mitch Marner scored what ended up being the decisive second goal off of a point shot through traffic with 9:57 to go in regulation.
This came moments after Bobrovsky had recovered his stick and was, probably, a little out of sorts.
“It is what it is,” Bobrovsky repeated throughout his post-game media availability following Game 4.
As for the clean shots? He gobbled them all up.
When Toronto went on an offensive surge in the second period, Bobrovsky came up with 14 saves on the 15 shots it took.
He capped that off with a big save on a John Tavares breakaway with 22 seconds remaining in the second which gave the Panthers life going into the third.
The problem was that they did not capitalize on it.
Reinhart picked up the lone goal on the power play with 7:47 to go — after the Panthers trailed 2-0 — and Florida was not able to muster up much else after that.
But Bobrovsky sustaining his hot streak leaves a lot of hope going forward for Florida.
The Panthers entered the playoffs with a lot of questions following a season marred by injury and illness for Bobrovsky and a hot streak from Alex Lyon.
Those questions have been answered — and then some — ever since Bobrovsky jumped back in net.
The Panthers may have lost on Wednesday — but Bobrovsky was strong once more. His hot streak continues even if the Panthers’ winning ways did not.
“I would have complete faith in Sergei even if he hadn’t,” Maurice said.
”His best game of the playoffs was probably Game 5. When he came back in [during Game 4 of series] that was a big memory. He has great rebound-ability and has great confidence. There is — for Sergei and for this hockey team — no legitimate expectation of winning seven straight games in the playoffs.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS
PANTHERS (WC2) AT TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (ATL2)
GAME 5 (Florida Leads 3-1)
- When: Friday, 7 p.m.
- Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
- TV: TNT
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- First Round Schedule — Game 1: Florida 4, @Toronto 2; Game 2: Florida 3, @Toronto 2; Game 3: @Florida 3, Toronto 2 (OT); Game 4: Toronto 2, @Florida 1; Game 5: Friday at Toronto (TNT), 7; Game 6*: Sunday, May 14 at Florida (TBA); Game 7*:May 16 at Toronto (TNT). (*) – If Necessary
- How They Got Here: Toronto d. Tampa Bay 4-2; Florida d. Boston 4-3
- Season Series (Toronto won 3-1): Maple Leafs 5, @Panthers 4 OT (Jan. 17); @Maple Leafs 6, Panthers 2 (Mar. 23); Panthers 3, @Maple Leafs 2 OT (March 29); Maple Leafs 2, @Panthers 1 OT (April 10)
- Last season: Florida won 2-1
- All-time Regular Season Series: Toronto leads 48-36-7, 7 ties
- Postseason History: First Meeting