The longest Stanley Cup title drought in the NHL belongs to the Toronto Maple Leafs as they haven’t hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup since 1967 but with defending Cup champion Colorado and Presidents’ Trophy-winning Boston both eliminated in Round 1 of the playoffs, the Leafs are now the +350 favorites in the NHL odds to win it all entering Game 1 of their second-round East series vs. Florida on Tuesday.
Maple Leafs New Stanley Cup Favorites, Host Panthers In Game 1 Of East Semifinals Tuesday
When: Tuesday, May 2, at 7:00 pm ET
Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Canada
TV / Streaming: ESPN
Toronto eliminated three-time defending Eastern Conference champion Tampa Bay with a 2-1 overtime win in Game 6 on Saturday to advance to the second round for the first time since 2004. John Tavares scored the game- and series-winning goal on Saturday. He circled the net with the puck and then turned and wheeled as he got to the bottom of the right circle. Morgan Rielly had driven the net and tied up Bolts defender Darren Raddysh at the same moment, and Tavares’ shot went off Raddysh’s skate and past an unmoving Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Teammate Auston Matthews scored his fifth goal of the postseason with a one-timer from the top of the right circle in the second period. He had called for the puck and T.J. Brodie obliged with a perfect pass from the left point. Matthews is riding a four-game, five-goal streak, and he has points (five goals, four assists) in all six of the Leafs games this postseason.
Ilya Samsonov made 31 saves in the victory and easily his best game of the series. The only goal he allowed came off the stick of Lightning captain Steven Stamkos in the second period.
After eliminating Tampa Bay in the First Round, Toronto will now line up against Florida. This marks the fourth time the Maple Leafs have faced teams from the same state or province in consecutive rounds within a postseason. It last happened in 1999 against the Flyers and Penguins.
Florida stunned record-setting Boston 4-3 in overtime in Game 7 on Sunday. Brandon Montour (2-0—2) tied the game with one minute remaining in regulation and Carter Verhaeghe (1-1—2) scored 8:35 into overtime as the Panthers became the eighth team to defeat the Presidents’ Trophy winner in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs (since it was introduced in 1985-86) and third to do so via a Game 7 victory.
Sergei Bobrovsky (33 saves), who also backstopped the Blue Jackets past the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Lightning in the 2019 First Round in historic fashion, became the seventh goaltender in the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68) to post multiple career wins in series-clinching games against the League’s top team from the regular season. The others: Grant Fuhr (2), Billy Smith (2), Mike Vernon (2), Martin Brodeur (2), Marc-Andre Fleury (2) and Andrei Vasilevskiy (2).
Florida, which advanced past the opening round of the playoffs for the third time in franchise history, completed the 2022-23 regular season with 92 points, 43 behind the Presidents’ Trophy-winning and NHL record-setting Bruins. It marked the second-largest regular-season point differential by a team in a series win behind the 1982 Kings, who finished 48 points behind the Wayne Gretzky-led Oilers.
Forty-eight players have played a game for both Toronto and Florida (regular season or playoffs), including current Maple Leafs skater Noel Acciari. He spent three seasons with the Panthers from 2019-20 to 2021-22 and recorded 27-19—46 in 127 games played. He went scoreless through 19 career playoff games with the franchise.
Florida forward Ryan Lomberg (upper body) was labeled week-to-week ahead of the start of the Panthers’ second-round clash with Toronto. Lomberg apparently suffered his upper-body injury in Game 1 and was able to power through for a while before missing the last three contests. Prior to his absence, the 28-year-old winger recorded five shots, nine hits and 18 PIM but wasn’t able to secure a point over four playoff outings.
In four meetings during the regular season, the Leafs and Panthers required overtime in three games to decide a winner. Toronto won two of those games and three of four overall. Florida owns an all-time series record of 4-5 in its first head-to-head playoff round with a franchise, while Toronto is 12-13. The Panthers have never won the Cup.
Expert Game 1 Prediction
Toronto 4, Florida 2
Maple Leafs vs Lightning in Game 6, 4/29
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