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It Seems The Maple Leafs' Misery Will Never End After A Tough No-Goal Call And A Gutting OT Loss

Steve Russell. Getty Images.

If this doesn't perfectly encapsulate the life of a typical Toronto Maple Leafs fan, I don't know what does:

How many awful twists and figurative crotch shots can one franchise take before they truly buy into the widespread belief that they are, indeed, cursed? 

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There's no other explanation at this point. The Leafs managed 111 points during the regular season even with a historically great Bruins club in their division. Didn't matter in the end. More of the same playoff disappointment, amounting to little else beyond a cruel tease at major progress.

Let me tell you…I wouldn't usually advocate for fans throwing debris onto the ice. Even though I think the refs made the proper call, since the play appeared to be blown dead before the puck crossed the line, you can't blame the Leafs faithful for blowing off some steam.

Even GM Kyle Dubas was animated as all hell about it:

…And upon closer examination, maybe everyone at Scotiabank Arena had a point to their negative pandemonium and littering other than airing out pent-up frustration:

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Is that in!?!?! Most shocking of all is that there are so many cameras all over the net and not a single one of them could pick up a beyond-reasonable-doubt angle. 

I'm sure the jumbotron showed a biased glimpse at the disallowed Morgan Rielly goal, hence the charged fan response to the would-be equalizer. Making matters worse, Mitchell Marner clanged a shot off the iron not long after this whole fiasco. Woof.

Although William Nylander lit the lamp with 4:27 remaining in regulation, Florida dominated the extra period, forechecked like crazy, generated tons of chances on a power play to wear the Leafs down, and ultimately, it was Nick Cousins who came through to deliver the Panthers a 3-2 victory:

Turns out the Leafs' first-round series triumph over the Lightning was a mirage. Not to take anything away from the Florida Panthers. They've earned their keep to make it to the Conference Finals. Ever since going down 3-1 in the first round to Boston, they've flipped a switch and haven't looked back. 

Amazing, too, that Florida edged out Pittsburgh and Buffalo by a single point for the East's final Wild Card berth. Now look at them! What a series it's about to be between the Panthers and Canes. You have Florida only one year removed from winning the Presidents' Trophy and playing with loads of confidence, while Carolina just got finished making quick work of the upstart Devils in five.

The Panthers' exceptional form and determination to go this deep in the postseason shouldn't be overlooked, yet there's no question Toronto was the favorite to advance. I remember seeing the Leafs' series moneyline at -175 or thereabouts. They didn't execute. 

You can't dig yourself a 0-3 hole and expect to climb out of it. Nevertheless, Toronto was thisclose to forcing a Game 6. As has been the case in many years past, it simply wasn't meant to be.

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