Photo Credit: Michael Tureski (Icon Sportswear)
The Leafs are on a hot streak right now, winning their last four games while outscoring their opponents 16-3 over those four games. Charlie McAvoy returns to the lineup for the first time following his heart surgery along with Austin Czarnik, while Kevan Miller and Noel Accari both step out of the lineup. Rask and Andersen will be in nets for their respective teams. Longtime captain Zdeno Chara is set to play the 1,400th game in his historied career tonight.
What I Am Looking Forward To
Two words. Playoff. Atmosphere. These are two teams that have an incredibly high possibility of being a first-round matchup. It’s going to show in the intensity of the play tonight.
The game started off with some pretty typical back and forth, with both teams getting good rushes into zones. Bergeron opened up the scoring with a textbook shot from the high slot that easily beat Andersen. Shortly after, Boston gave up a breakaway that almost turned into a goal, and right after that, Carlo took a bad penalty that resulted in McAvoy tipped it directly into the net. The two teams continued to trade chances and use their speed, but no one could break the 1-1 tie by the end of the first period.
BOS – Bergeron (Heinen)
TOR – Marner PP (Rielly, Kadri)
The Bruins had some good chances to start off the second by getting the puck into high scoring areas, but Pastrnak took a lazy goalie interference penalty and that seemed to slow down the Bruins pace. Then everything went crazy. Rask made one of the best saves of the year, along with shots that hit posts at both ends of the ice with Bergeron wiring the puck off the crossbar, Rielly took a tripping penalty and Boston got a bit of a break. Then the Boston power play started. That was even more hectic, with shots from every angle you could think of, and rebounds for everyone. The Bruins wouldn’t convert there, but moments later the Bruins would get another opportunity on the power play where David Pastrnak roared down the wing and snuck the puck in on the short side, extending his point streak to eight straight games. Toronto was sent to the penalty kill yet again on a weak interference call, where the Bruins continued to work the Leafs in the offensive end, which turned into an absolute blast of a shot from Krug to make it 3-1. Things started to get chippy at the end of the period, with Leo Komarov taking a shot at Bergeron, but that ended pretty quickly when Chara stepped in and asked if there was a problem.
BOS – Pastrnak PP (Krug, Heinen), Krug PP (Czarnik, Krejci)
TOR – N/A
Boston decided to keep up the offensive pressure by changing their entry strategy to more of a dump-and-chase rather than their usual tendency to carry it in and look for openings. After this went on for ten minutes or so, Backes made a risky hit on Dermott that was called a knee-on-knee but seemed to be more of a knee-on-groin, but the refs had to call it. The man advantage was unsuccessful, and this caused Kadri to try and take things into his own hands after he and McQuaid had an on-ice scuffle and throw his hands to his face in hopes of a penalty. The ref didn’t fall for it. With the clock just north of three minutes, Mike Babcock pulled Andersen in the hopes that his players could close the gap, but Rask made sure that the only goal that he gave up tonight was the one in the first period. Tim Schaller threw a deep, looping shot at the Leafs empty net, and got it. 4-1 final.
BOS – Tim Schaller EN (Rask, Chara)
TOR – N/A
From what the media, including myself, was saying about how this could be a playoff matchup, you would think that it would come down to the final few seconds, but with the Bruins dominating defensive play, it seemed like it was wrapped up halfway through the second period. If a team can shut down a player as explosive and offensively gifted as Matthews, they can shut down pretty much anyone. Something that is key in playing series against superstars like Stamkos or Tavares.
KG’s Three Stars Of The Game
1st: Patrice Bergeron – Not only did Bergeron get a goal, but he also got six shots and shut down the Matthews line. Can’t ask too much more of him. Just a classic Sleke kind of game from #37.
2nd: Tuukka Rask – Stopping 23 of 24 shots alone isn’t a crazy game for most goalies, but with the Bruins being so effective at shot suppression, the shots that Rask did face were incredibly tough. He had to make stops in very clutch moments, including a couple on the penalty kill. Like the saying goes, “Your best penalty killer is your goalie”. He also added an assist on Schaller’s EN goal. What can’t he do?
3rd: Torey Krug – A great offensive game for Krug, racking up a goal and an assist in a great game. He played his role very effectively tonight, opening up the ice with great passes and taking smart shots.
MUP (Most Under-Appreciated Player): The Fourth Line – I may need to rename this award The Merlot Line Honourary Award because it seems like almost every game they show up in big times. They play a gritty, fourth line kind of game, but they have great speed. You can’t ask for much more from them in games like this.
BIRDHOUSE – Round-up of the best Tweets during the game
Tuesday, February 6th @ Detroit vs the Red Wings