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Nylander, Leafs rally to sink Panthers


William Nylander scored the go-ahead goal with 11:00 left in the third period, as the Toronto Maple Leafs rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Florida Panthers 5-3 on Thursday night at Sunrise, Fla.

The Leafs (34-23-8, 76 points) are battling for what could be the third and final playoff berth for Atlantic Division teams. The Panthers (33-25-6) are four points back of the Leafs.

Florida had won its two previous games against Toronto this season, 8-4 and then 5-3. In the latter game, Florida rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win, as Toronto did on Thursday.

Toronto also got goals from Zach Hyman, Kasperi Kapanen, Auston Matthews and Justin Holl (empty-netter). For Matthews, who also had an assist, it was his 44th goal of the season.

Florida got goals from Mark Pysyk, Mike Hoffman and Noel Acciari. Hoffman has a team-high 26 goals.

Frederik Andersen made 24 saves for Toronto. He was flawless after allowing three goals in the first 12-plus minutes.

Sergei Bobrovsky (24 saves) took the loss.

Each team got just nine shots on goal in the first, yet the wild period ended with six goals scored -- all at even strength. Florida led 3-1, but Toronto tied it 3-3 with two goals in the final 2:17.

Pysyk, a defenseman who had a hat trick against Toronto earlier this season, opened the scoring with just 2:23 elapsed as he buried a long rebound of an Aaron Ekblad shot. It was Pysyk's ninth goal of the season.

Hyman tied the score 69 seconds later, stuffing home his second rebound attempt after Matthews brilliantly flicked the puck toward the net while under duress.

Florida took a 2-1 lead on the rush as Hoffman rebounded a Frank Vatrano shot into an open side of the net at 7:25.

Acciari made it 3-1 on his bad-angle shot from the right side that rang in off the far post at the 12:36 mark.

Then, just as the period's only power play had expired for Toronto, the Leafs -- still on the attack -- got a goal on Kapanen's wrist shot.

Toronto tied the score with 62 seconds left on an All-Star effort by Matthews. He dumped the puck in, chased it down, forced a turnover and skated to the crease to tap in a rebound.

Nylander's go-ahead goal came on a long rebound, as he spun around and scored just inside the near post. Holl's empty-netter came with just 21 seconds left.

--Field Level Media

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