The last time the Bruins hosted the Maple Leafs in an elimination game they came back from 4-1 down, tonight though, not so much.
After splitting both games north of the border, the Bruins returned home and with a win set up a 2nd round matchup with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Patrice Bergeron also returned to the lineup in Game 5 after missing the previous game with an upper-body injury.
The physical play continued early in the game as both teams were banging bodies once the puck dropped. Boston had some decent looks on goal but Andersen stopped each chance. However, it was Toronto who opened the scoring tonight. A stretch pass got the Leafs into the zone and a wraparound by Auston Matthews forced a diving desperation stop by Torey Krug but the puck popped into the air and Connor Brown batted the airborne puck into the net for an early Maple Leafs lead.
Toronto doubled their lead soon after the opening goal, as the returning Nazem Kadri made his presence felt. Again, it was another stretch pass by the Leafs’ defense that sprung the Leafs offense. Kadri entered the zone and found a streaking Andreas Johnsson who sped past the Bruins defense and finished the play with a smooth backhand past Rask and Toronto had a 2-0 lead 10 minutes into the contest.
After a strong couple opening shifts, the Bruins needed a jolt and they got that when Tyler Bozak was called for slashing. While the B’s failed to score on the man advantage, Pasta did ring the post and just as the powerplay expired, Andersen made a few huge saves as players from both teams stormed the crease.
The powerplay was the best the Bruins looked all period, and the momentum carried for the remainder of the period. Boston kept the pressure on, but Andersen didn’t budge and even though the Bruins had a 15-6 shot advantage, they were behind 2-0 on the scoreboard.
Already down 2, Tuukka Rask came up with a big save on William Nylander to keep it a 2 goal game. Both teams swapped offensive pressure for the first half of the period, but both Rask and Andersen kept the puck out of the net. On a 2 on 1, Pastrnak would be tripped by Nikita Zaitsev and for the second time this evening, Boston headed to the powerplay. David Backes tucked in the rebound of a Jake DeBrusk shot and cut the Toronto lead in half with 10 minutes left in the 2nd period.
Under a minute later, the Maple Leafs restored the 2 goal advantage as on a counterattack, the Bruins defense got too spread out and allowed Tyler Bozak to slip in on goal. Bozak beat Rask high glove side, but Rask definitely got a good look at the shot and needs to stop that shot.
Quickly after Bozak’s marker, Matt Grzelcyk got called for tripping and it was Toronto’s turn on the powerplay. JVR scored the Leafs 4th goal of the contest, roofing the puck underneath the crossbar from in tight and that was the end of Tuukka Rask’s night as Anton Khudobin came in relief with the Bruins down 3.
A scuffle ensued between David Backes and Zach Hyman in front of the Bruins bench and both players along with Jake Gardiner went to the box with offsetting penalties. The Leafs took 2 penalties in quick succession as Bozak was called for interference and Roman Polak for slashing. The B’s had a lengthy 5 on 3 advantage, and had some good chances but couldn’t convert.
Boston would get one goal back before the period ended, as Matt Grzelcyk held the puck behind the Toronto net and found Sean Kuraly for a one-timer hammered past Andersen to cut the lead to 2 goals. Toronto was whistled for one more penalty as Andreas Johnsson got called for hooking with under 2 minutes to go. The B’s failed to score at the end of the 2nd, and the powerplay carried over for 33 seconds into the 3rd period.
Toronto killed off the rest of the Johnsson penalty and we went back to 5 on 5. Rick Nash put a rebound chance just wide after the powerplay expired as the Leafs were still up one goal. Boston went on another powerplay after Travis Dermott was called for holding. It was another unsuccessful man advantage for the B’s, but Noel Acciari banked the puck off of Andersen’s skate to cut the lead to 1 with 14 minutes remaining.
For the rest of the game, Boston’s offense poured it on Andersen and the Leafs pressuring for the equalizer. They had chance after chance to the tie the game but Freddie Andersen made some great saves to keep the Leafs ahead. Cassidy even put out 4 forwards on the ice at even strength with David Krejci playing the point with Charlie McAvoy. Even with 20 shots in the 3rd period, and 45 in the game, the Leafs held on the defeat the Bruins 4-3 and force Game 6 on Monday back in Toronto.
- After an outstanding Game 4, Rask struggled tonight. The third Toronto goal absolutely needs to be stopped and you can argue that on JVR’s powerplay goal, Rask shouldn’t have dropped so early.
- Charlie McAvoy also struggled tonight and has had a tough series total. A -2 tonight he was beaten by Johnsson on the second goal and on the third goal, he and Chara got stretched out by the Leafs and allowed an easy chance on goal for the Leafs.
- The 4th line was buzzing tonight, getting two goals and they generated shots on goal and were physical all game long.
- Rick Nash is getting dangerous looking chances and sooner or later he has to bury one of them, right?
- It wouldn’t shock me if Ryan Donato or Tommy Wingels got into the lineup for Game 6, probably in place of Danton Heinen.