Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask was the story of the game, as the Bruins were able to win Game 4 despite being without Patrice Bergeron.
News broke just before puck drop, that Boston Bruins alternate captain and 1st line center Patrice Bergeron would miss the game due to an upper-body injury. It was an unexpected announcement and put the Bruins in a deep hole before the game even started. In his absence, Riley Nash slotted in between Marchand and Pastrnak to center the top line.
As uncertainty surrounded the team prior to the game, Tuukka Rask stepped up and backstopped the B’s to a huge victory in Toronto. Stopping 31 out of 32 shots, Rask showed that he is capable of stealing a playoff game.
The first line centered by Riley Nash got things going early in this one. Just 28 seconds into the contest, a Torey Krug seeing-eye shot beat Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen from a wide angle. A great entry by David Pastrnak got the Bruins into the zone and the puck worked its way around to Krug whose shot beat Andersen high blocker side. Riley Nash’s screen took away Andersen’s eyes and was a crucial part of Krug’s shot finding the back of the net.
After Boston’s opening strike, Toronto wrestled back control of the game. Rask kept the Leafs scoreless initially as their chances kept mounting. Rask was able to stop Patrick Marleau on a 2-on-1 break for the Leafs to keep Boston’s 1 goal advantage intact.
But, Toronto would tie the game shortly after Marleau’s bid. Even with 3 players back on defense, Toronto was able to enter the Bruins zone cleanly. After Rask saved the initial shot, Tomas Plekanec found a soft spot in the slot between Krug and Pastrnak fired a one-timer past Rask to tie the game at 1.
With the score now tied at 1, the majority of play belonged to Toronto. Jake DeBrusk was whistled for hooking late in the period and Toronto headed to the powerplay and the Bruins desperately needed a huge penalty kill. This is exactly what the B’s got and quelled the Leafs momentum. Danton Heinen had a chance late on a partial breakaway to restore their earlier lead, but he flubbed the shot and the puck harmlessly fluttered to the boards. The period ended with the game tied at 1, with Toronto leading in shots 12-7.
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Early on, Rask went behind the net to play the puck, but mishit the pass and was somehow able to recover in time to stop an early Leaf scoring chance. The Bruins struggled to make crisp plays in the period and in the defensive zone were scrambling around, allowing for plenty of Toronto shots on goal. Rask continued his strong play from the first frame, stopping chance after chance for Toronto including a slick glove snag on 2-on-1 and another breakaway stop, this time robbing Mitch Marner.
Everything the Bruins tried offensively seemed to be a grind and they could barely generate any scoring chances. With under 5 minutes remaining in the period, however, the 1st line showed their skill. A superb spin move by Brad Marchand around a Toronto defender put Marchand one on one with Frederik Andersen, but his attempt was saved by the Leafs goaltender. If he scored, it would have bee the goal of the playoffs.
A minute after Marchand’s chance, the Bruins won a defensive zone faceoff where Adam McQuaid banked the puck off the glass and Pastrnak exited the zone with speed past the Maple Leafs defenseman, leading to a 2 on 1 with Marchand. As Nikita Zaitsev jumped over to Pasta’s side, his pass got over to Marchand who roofed the puck past Andersen. After being thoroughly outplayed in the middle period, the Bruins had an unlikely 2-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Now down a goal, Toronto came out fast in the frame, searching for a way to solve Tuukka Rask. As Toronto pressure for the tying goal, David Krejci blocked a shot and sprung a 2-on-1 break with DeBrusk. Krejci’s feed was deposited into the net by the rookie, giving the Bruins the insurance marker they needed.
Boston settled in defensively and focused on keeping the Leafs off the scoreboard. Whether it was blocking shots, strong team defense or Tuukka Rask, the Bruins stifled the Leafs in the 3rd, limiting their high-quality scoring chances.
Leaning on their top players, the Bruins were able to shut down the Leafs in the third and when Toronto pulled Andersen with 3 minutes to go still couldn’t beat Rask. Even though the B’s didn’t score on the empty net, Boston took Game 4 in a 3-1 victory and head back to Boston for a potential series ending Game 5 on Saturday.
- Speaking of leaning on their top players, Zdeno Chara played 26:43 and the top line averaged 19:28 TOI.
- Cassidy said post game that Bergeron’s injury was something he has been dealing with and hoped he plays in Game 5.
- Jake DeBrusk only played just over 12 minutes tonight, but was one of their best forwards on the ice. He was hustling all over the ice and got rewarded scoring the insurance tally in the 3rd.
- The Bruins blocked 27 shots tonight, with every defenseman but Matt Grzelcyk blocking more than 3 shots each.
- Boston got outshot 32-21, but Tuukka Rask was on his game tonight.
- Tuukka Rask stole a playoff game and is very good.
- Back at it again for Game 5 on Saturday night in Boston.