SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — John Tavares scored with 21.3 seconds remaining in overtime and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat Florida 2-1 on Monday night to snap the Panthers’ six-game winning streak.
Auston Matthews also scored for Toronto, netting his 40th of the season. Ilya Samsonov made 46 saves.
Brandon Montour scored for Florida and tied the franchise record for goals by a defenceman in a season with his 16th. Goalie Alex Lyon made 23 saves and lost for the first time in seven straight starts in place of Sergei Bobrovsky.
The Panthers managed to gain a point and moved closer to a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Florida has gone 6-0-1 since losing in Ottawa on March 27.
“That game could have gone either way,” Montour said. “They played well, both goalies played well and we ended up getting a point out of it. It obviously would have been better to get the extra point, but we are OK.”
After a scoreless opening 37-plus minutes, the Maple Leafs took a 1-0 lead when Matthews deflected a long shot by Mitch Marner with 2:13 remaining in the second period.
The Panthers tied the score midway through the third when Montour scored on a feed from Carter Verhaeghe.
“That was a massive point for us,” Lyon said. “The guys played so well in front of me, they made my job simple. It is tough going into the third down 1-0 and it is easy to be discouraged … but we kept the pedal to the metal and that is the sign of a really good team.”
With a win in their regular-season finale Thursday against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes, the Panthers can clinch a playoff spot — if they had not done so before, depending on how the Pittsburgh Penguins do on Tuesday against Chicago.
“Five games ago, we hoped we would make that last game and have a chance,’’ Florida coach Paul Maurice said.
“We have earned a two-day block of rest before the biggest game of the year. Now we can say it is the biggest game of the year.’’
Maple Leafs: At Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.
Panthers: Host Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.
George Richards, The Associated Press