SUNRISE — The Toronto Maple Leafs spoiled the Florida Panthers chances of clinching a playoff spot on Monday night.
The Panthers got the help they needed when the New York Islanders fell in regulation to the Washington Capitals but could not take care of business back in Sunrise.
John Tavares scored with 21.3 seconds remaining in overtime to spoil Florida’s party and take a 2-1 win.
He kept the Panthers waiting the same way he sent them home in the first round of the playoffs as an Islander back in 2016 — an overtime winner.
It looked like the Panthers would be done for in regulation after a spectacular 46-save showing from Ilya Sasmonov, only Brandon Montour gave them life with 10:24 to go in regulation.
But that was all they could muster against Samsonov.
No matter how hard they tried, they could not take advantage of the slew of scoring chances the Maple Leafs gave them and it cost them in the end.
While their six-game winning streak is snapped, they still find themselves in the driver’s seat to make the playoffs.
A win over the Carolina Hurricanes would get the job done and secure them a playoff spot.
The Pittsburgh Penguins losing on Tuesday against the Chicago Blackhawks or the Islanders losing to the Montreal Canadiens in regulation on Wednesday would also do the trick.
Should Florida only pick up one point against Carolina, they would need New York to lose in any fashion to Montreal.
To keep things simple: if they win, they’re in. If they don’t, they will need some help.
GOALS OF THE GAME
- Maple Leafs 1, Panthers 0 (17:47, 2nd): Auston Matthews deflected a Mitch Marner shot that dribbled past Alex Lyon to put Toronto ahead.
- Panthers 1, Maple Leafs 1 (9:36, 2nd): Brandon Montour tied the game with a wrist shot from the slot off a feed from Carter Verhaeghe.
- Maple Leafs 2, Panthers 1 (4:38, OT): John Tavares beat Lyon with a backhand move on a breakaway with 22.3 seconds remaining to give the Leafs the win.
COLBY’S 3 STARS OF THE GAME
1. Ilya Samsonov, Toronto
2. Auston Matthews, Toronto
3. Alex Lyon, Florida
PANTHERS ON DECK
CAROLINA HURRICANES AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida/ESPN+
- Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
- Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
- Last season: Florida won 3-0
- This season (Series tied 1-1): Florida 3, Carolina 2 (Nov. 9); Carolina 4, Florida 0 (Dec. 30)
- All-time regular season series: Carolina leads 70-46-10, 11 ties