SUNRISE, Fla. (AP)Brandon Montour scored 2:26 into overtime and the NHL-leading Florida Panthers extended their winning streak to a franchise-record 13 games by beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 on Saturday night.
The winning streak matches the seventh-longest in NHL history and is the league’s longest since Columbus won 16 consecutive games in the 2016-17 season. The victory also marked Florida interim coach Andrew Brunette’s 50th in just 71 games behind the Panthers’ bench.
Claude Giroux had a goal and two assists for Florida, while Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist and Mason Marchment had two assists. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 34 shots.
”We go into games with a lot of confidence,” Giroux said. ”I feel after each win, we say we can play better. Everything is going great right now. We’re getting some bounces, making plays and having fun. We just have to keep going.”
Justin Holl and Mitch Marner had goals for Toronto. Jack Campbell finished with 32 saves.
”I thought the guys came out, played hard, overcame a lot of adversity,” Campbell said. ”You obviously want to come away with two points, but it is what it is. Just proud of the effort from the guys.”
The Maple Leafs again held an early lead on the Panthers but failed to hold onto it. On April 5 in their last visit, Toronto led Florida 5-1 in the second period but ended up losing 7-6 in overtime. Saturday night, the Panthers fell behind 2-0 after the first period but were able to come back.
”I thought our guys played hard tonight. We easily could have won the game,” Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe said. ”I thought we won the first and third period. Against this team, you’ve got to score more than two. That’s what they’ve been doing all season, they find ways to win. . I thought we did more than enough to win.”
Marner scored his 35th goal of the season on Toronto’s first shot of the night at 3:25 of the first period.
With 2:40 remaining, Holl banked a shot off Florida defenseman Radko Gudas which got past Bobrovsky to make it 2-0.
Florida came back and tied the score heading into the third. Barkov got the Panthers on the board with his 39th at 6:26 of the second.
Later in the period, Giroux picked up his third goal with the Panthers since coming over in a blockbuster trade at the deadline.
That set up an intense third period in which both Bobrovsky and Campbell were sharp throughout. Bobrovsky made 12 saves in the third, Campbell nine.
”Bob was great, he is the reason we were where we were,” Brunette said. ”We pushed back in the second a little bit, but Bob kept us in. It was a good hockey game between two good teams and it took overtime to decide it.”
Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau had one assist putting him two points behind Edmonton’s Connor McDavid for the league lead. McDavid is at 116 for the season and the Oilers next play Sunday at Columbus.
Florida moved four points ahead of idle Colorado (116) in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy, given to the team with the best regular season record. Both have four games remaining. Florida hosts Tampa Bay on Sunday and then ends the regular season with a three-game trip to Boston (Tuesday), Ottawa (Thursday) and Montreal (Friday). Colorado visits Winnipeg on Sunday, then hosts St. Louis on Tuesday and Nashville on Thursday before finishing at Minnesota on Friday.
NOTES: The Maple Leafs welcomed star center Auston Matthews back to the lineup after he missed three games with an undisclosed injury. He remained on a league-leading 58 goals after going scoreless on seven shots Saturday. … Toronto rookie forward Michael Bunting left the game with 12:01 left in the first and did not return. Bunting only played four shifts and will ”miss some time for sure,” Keefe said. … Toronto and Florida have already set club records for points in a season. The Maple Leafs’ previous best was 105 in 2017-18; the Panthers’ was 103 in 2015-16. … Florida went 2-1-0 against Toronto this season. … The Panthers are on pace to eclipse 600,000 in total home attendance Sunday night in their regular season home finale. It’ll mark the first time Florida has hit that number since 2015-16. … Florida is only the fourth team in NHL history to have separate winning streaks of 12 and eight games in the same season, and the first since the 1970-71 Boston Bruins.
Maple Leafs: At Washington on Sunday.
Panthers: Host Tampa Bay on Sunday.
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