The Boston Bruins packed their gear and headed to Toronto with a 2-0 series lead. Which team found themselves having a case of the Mondays?
The Boston Bruins top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak has been the best line in the playoffs. Through 2 games, the trio had combined for a whopping 20 points (5 goals, 15 assists), led by Pastrnak’s 9 points (4-5). Torey Krug has been a dynamo on the blue line as well, notching 5 assists.
Tonight’s game saw a few lineup changes. Riley Nash returned to the lineup, after missing time due to taking a puck to the ear. That meant youngster Ryan Donato watched from the press box. Matt Grzelcyk missed tonight’s game due to a lower body injury, which allowed Nick Holden to make his Bruins playoff debut.
The game started off with each team feeling the other out. The play was physical yet clean. The teams traded chances early. Zach Hyman had a good scoring chance on a two-on-one, but ended up shanking the puck. Marchand had a solid opportunity on Frederik Andersen on a slick saucer pass from Pastrnak, but the puck slid off his stick before he was able to get a shot off.
Toronto looked like they were about to score on a funky play where the puck died in the Bruins zone for a Leafs scoring chance. Tuukka Rask was having none of it, sliding all the way across the crease to deflect the puck with his glove. The game remained tied, but the ice was starting to tilt towards the B’s net.
The teams just continue trading chances. The Bruins top line cycled the puck well in the Leafs zone, which they have trouble defending, but no goal game. Kasperi Kapanen had a partial breakaway, but a unsettled puck left him unable to get a good shot on Rask. It seemed like it would take a power play for a team to break through.
Well, that’s just what happened. Toronto was given a major gift when the officials completely whiffed on a puck-over-the-glass call against Riley Nash gave the Leafs a man advantage. And of course, a few seconds into the power play, James van Riemsdyk gave the Leafs their first lead of the series.
Perhaps if the linesman didn’t duck like he was being shot at and watched the puck like he is paid to do, he might have gotten the call right. Come on Zebra, you’re in a hockey rink, not in an alley with Suge Knight. Luckily, Fanatics is willing to help us out in gearing up the refs and linesmen:
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The middle frame started much like the end of the 1st. The Leafs were pressing hard to try to extend their lead. Auston Mathews, who had mostly been a ghost during the first 2 games, was firing shots on Rask. Leafs coach Mike Babcock was able to use the last change to get Matthews on the ice when Zdeno Chara and Charlie McAvoy were on the bench, giving him more space to work with.
The Bruins 4th line of grinders took the ice to try and swing some momentum in Boston’s direction. After a frenetic forecheck by Noel Acciari, Tim Schaller, and Sean Kuraly, Adam McQuaid teed one up from the blueline. Andersen was only able to get a piece of the puck as it squeaked through his five hole and into the net, tying the game.
43 seconds later, however, the tie came to a quick end. The Bruins had the puck on the cycle, and Mitch Marner abandoned his point, getting behind Kevan Miller. A stretch pass found the cherry-picker Marner, who all of a sudden had a 2-on-1 with Patrick Marleau. Marleau beat Krug to the back post, and deflected Marner’s pass into the net.
The Bruins would not go away. A 200-foot play starting with a great breakout by the 4th line again found the puck on Chara’s stick. The big man faked a slapshot, and skated in along the left wing. At the goal line, Chara went top shelf off and then over Andersen’s shoulder, channeling his inner-Pastrnak. Once again, the game was tied.
Auston Matthews was the recipient of the Bruins top-line having an incredibly long shift hemmed in their own end. After the B’s couldn’t clear the puck, Matthews found the puck in the faceoff circle and buried one high on Rask. The Leafs had regained their 1 goal lead.
The 3rd period was owned by the Bruins, but the entire time it seemed like all of the puck luck was on the Leafs side. The Bruins were finally awarded a power play early in the period. However, for some reason, the play was stopped during to an “injured” Toronto player as the Bruins were skating the puck into the zone. This in addition to an earlier missed too-many-men on the ice call against Toronto, and multiple posts hit, the Bruins just couldn’t break through.
Andersen was able to keep every Bruins shot out of the net in the final period, while the Leafs were the beneficiary of an outrageous no-icing call against Toronto. Shortly after, the Leafs were sprung on a 2-on-1 with Patrick Marleau, who scored his 2nd of the game. Credit where credit is due though, this save by Andersen on Pastrnak was sick, and could be the save of the playoffs.
Takeaways from the game
- The first line was not as dominant as it had been the first 2 games. Some game-planning and match-up selection by the Leafs was able to stifle the Bruins best for the most part.
- The Bruins 4th line was on the ice for the 2 Bruins goals. They were playing with intensity and energy all game.
- That 1st Toronto goal scored on the power play should be stricken from the record. The league mandates there by 4 on-ice officials. They huddled up, and still got in wrong. Don’t worry, that linesman who had to duck out of the way of the puck that wasn’t within 20 feet of him…he’s just fine.
- Next game is Thursday in Toronto. It’s gut check time.