‘Heartbreak’: Maple Leafs fans react to gutwrenching series loss to Panthers

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitchell Marner (16) reacts after losing to the Florida Panthers in overtime NHL second round Stanley Cup playoff hockey action in Toronto, on Friday, May 12, 2023. Frank Gunn/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Despite a glimmer of hope following a Game 4 victory, plus an epic comeback attempt punctuated by a William Nylander goal, the Florida Panthers have eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs with a 3-2 overtime win on Friday.

A controversial no-goal call on Morgan Rielly late in the second, combined with the heroics of Sergei Bobrosvky and his sterling 51-save showing to solidify himself as the series’ X-Factor, served as the final nail in Toronto’s coffin, who now face the uncertainty of a summer ahead that is certain to bring about change.

The Panthers, meanwhile, head to their first Eastern Conference Final since 1995-96, the year Florida advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals before falling to the Colorado Avalanche.

It wasn’t a sweep, but questions nevertheless will percolate in the weeks to come about the futures of the Core 4, the coaching staff, and perhaps most notably, pending free agent manager Kyle Dubas.

Hockey Twitter had plenty to say postmortem on the Leafs, their 2023 postseason, and what the murky future of the club holds.

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