The Boston Bruins were once again in the Air Canada Centre attempting to keep the Toronto Maple Leafs generation long streak of post season losses at home going.(The Leafs have not registered a home playoff win over Boston since March 31, 1959.) The Maple Leafs played with an air of desperation that showed their tenacity and their skill. The Maple Leafs came out swinging with an early Joffrey Lupul goal that energized the crowd. The Bruins found themselves often on the offensive but couldn’t get shots through James Reimer. A poorly timed accidental screen by Zdeno Chara allowed Cody Franson to get the puck past Tuukka Rask to move the Leafs up by two.
The majority of the Maple Leafs might have been anticipating a win, but the Bruins were steadfast this evening. A charging call against the Leafs’ Leo Komarov late in the first period gave the Bruins the opportunity to score a rare power play goal at the hands of Patrice Bergeron.
Then the Krejci train left the station. A hard offensive zone press by Zdeno Chara (who got assists on all four goals tonight), and Brad Marchand had them bring the puck in on Reimer again. David Krejci quietly moved up into the left side in front of the net, and took the Marchand rebound past the net to tie it up at two. The Air Canada Centre got noticeably more subdued at that point.
The frustration on the Maple Leafs led to more turnovers and tempers boiling over. Colton Orr got called for an elbow, and the Bruins had a chance to move ahead for the first time of the night. The Krejci line advanced through the offensive zone, along with Chara to apply pressure to the Leafs. This time, it was a Chara to Horton collaboration that got the puck to Krejci, again on the left side. The one timer sailed past Reimer, and the Bruins were up 3-2 with 3:21 left in the second period. It’s a rare thing to say post-season power play goal for Boston, but they had two in the second period.
Toronto was quite finished though. Clarke Macarthur game threw for the Leafs with a responding goal just forty-four seconds later to tie the game back up, and bring the crowd back into the game. The third period showed Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel putting up an impressive barrage of shots on Tuukka Rask. It also saw James Reimer having to make some rather acrobatic scrambles to avoid losing in regulation.
A few missed opportunities and a few ringed posts summed up overtime. In the end, the Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf made a costly error that hurt his team. Phaneuf, engaged and placed a serious hit on Nathan Horton. Phanuef didn’t realize there were two other Leafs right near Horton. This allowed Lucic and Krejci to advance on the offensive zone nearly unchallenged. Krejci on the left looked to find a pass to Lucic, but saw it wasn’t going to work and took the shot himself. That shot gave the Bruins the win, and Krejci his second career hat trick in the postseason.
After the game, Krejci (who had again been awarded the Ranger jacket for ‘star’ of the game) put a lot of the praise for that goal on his team. “If it wouldn’t have been for Horty [Nathan Horton], he took that hit to make a play. And the other guys played a big part on the goal, Looch [Milan Lucic] was driving the net; I was actually looking the whole way to pass, then I heard Zee [Zdeno Chara] was behind me. I had that many options, but they took them away and I got left with the shot. Luckily, it went in.”
“I’m just trying to do my best,” he added, “Go out there and play as hard as I can and help the team win the game. That’s all.”
Milan Lucic chose to put the praise right back on Krejci. “I’ve seen it for six years now,” said Lucic. “It’s pretty amazing in my eyes that it’s gone overlooked as long as it has. He’s a big-time player. He’s got a lot of confidence, a real good skill set, he’s showing it in this series.”
All in all, it was a rough night. A total of one hundred and twenty hits were recorded in the game, with Toronto beating Boston 71-49. Milan Lucic took a shot to the head in the first period. He ended up getting nine stitches, but came back to play. Toronto defenseman Mark Fraser took a Lucic shot to the face halfway through the third period. He ended up being helped off the ice and taken to the hospital.
The Bruins have the Leafs on the ropes, and have the chance to finish them off at home. Game five is Friday night at the TD Garden.