Joseph Woll stopped 24 shots in his first playoff start, Mitch Marner and William Nylander scored, and the Toronto Maple Leafs avoided elimination by beating the Florida Panthers 2-1 in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series. Wednesday night.
Nylander benefited from a rare rebound for a power-play score in the second period, Marner scored midway through the third and Woll did the rest when he took over for injured starter Ilya Samsonov.
Sam Reinhart scored for Florida, which got 23 saves from Sergei Bobrovsky. The Panthers still lead the series 3-1, with Game 5 in Toronto on Friday night.
Woll, who turns 25 on July 12, was bidding to become the youngest Toronto goalie to record a playoff shutout since Felix Potvin, then 23, made 42 saves to beat Chicago 3-0 on Saturday. May 9, 1995.
He was 7:47 away from doing it.
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Reinhart, who had the overtime winner in Game 3, caught a quick pass from Matthew Tkachuk and found a way to get the puck through Woll’s leg pads for a power play score, reducing the Toronto lead to 2-1.
Nylander’s last name is pronounced KNEE-lander, which seemed appropriate for the opening goal.
Toronto went more than five full periods (107 minutes, 46 seconds, to be exact, from the end of the second period of Game 2) without a power play until Florida’s Eetu Luostarinen was called for hitting the Leafs’ Michael Bunting early. . in the second period.
And they cashed in, thanks to the hockey gods who oversee crazy rebounding.
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Bunting attempted to throw the puck around the net from the right wing boards, only to have it bounce off referee Jon McIsaac’s knee as he tried to move out of the way. He jumped to the front of the net, where Nylander outplayed Bobrovsky for a 1-0 Toronto lead.
It was the first goal of the series for Toronto’s Big Four of Nylander, Auston Matthews, John Tavares and Marner.
The score remained 1-0 going into the third, though Toronto had a great chance to go up two in the waning seconds of the second period. Tavares got loose in the middle of the ice on a breakaway, but Bobrovsky thwarted his attempt at the side of the stick to hold Florida within one.
Marner made it 2-0 with 9:57 to play and the Leafs held on. They haven’t been swept in a playoff series since 1980, a best-of-five against the Minnesota North Stars, and also not a best-of-seven since Montreal eliminated them in four games in 1979.
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NO SWEEP YET
Florida has never swept in a playoff series. The Panthers also haven’t clinched a home series since 1996.
AROUND THE TRACK
It was the 12th career start (first in a playoff game) for Woll and the 680th for Bobrovsky (54th in a playoff game). … With Samsonov injured, the Maple Leafs called up G Dennis Hildeby from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies to be the team’s emergency backup goaltender. Matt Murray endorsed Woll.