(Photo Credit: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire)
By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty
Home: Toronto Maple Leafs
Away: Boston Bruins
Marchand – Bergeron – Pastrnak
DeBrusk – Krejci – Kuhlman
Heinen – Coyle – Backes
Nordstrom – Acciari – Wagner
Chara – McAvoy
Krug – Carlo
Grzelcyk – Kampfer
Hyman – Tavares – Marner
Johnsson – Matthews – Kapanen
Marleau – Nylander – Brown
Moore – Gauthier – Ennis
Muzzin – Zaitsev
Reilly – Hainsey
Gardiner – Dermott
After a crazy game two from start to finish, the series shifted to Toronto for game three in what could be a pivotal game in the series. Big news came ahead of the game in the form of a series-long suspension for Nazem Kadri, forcing William Nylander to the third-line center position for Toronto.
A fast and loud start set the tone for game three from the beginning and it was another physical bout. Tuukka Rask made a lot of big saves early on in the period. He really needed to be as Toronto came out hard. A late interference call on Ron Hainsey put the Bruins on the man advantage in a game, to this point, that was up-for-grabs. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they couldn’t grab it.
Toronto got their chance not long after the conclusion of the Bruins power play with 38.8 seconds left, as Charlie McAvoy took a holding the stick penalty. The puck went nearly untouched into the Toronto net as Chris Wagner guarded it in hopes that it would go in. It was a pretty funny sequence that almost ended well for the Bruins. 1:21 remained on the McAvoy penalty bleeding into the second period. The shots were 15-10 Bruins.
The Bruins were able to kill off the remaining 1:21 of the McAvoy penalty, avoiding danger in the first minute. Toronto struck first 2:38 into the period off of a Trevor Moore rebound. They managed to outshoot the Bruins 8-2 in the first three minutes.
The Toronto lead didn’t last long as David Krejci buried a bouncing puck to even things back up with his first of the playoffs. The goal gave Krejci his 69th career playoff point, third most in Bruins history. Jake DeBrusk and Karson Kuhlman had the assists, their firsts of the playoffs.
A John Tavares scoring chance led to a collision with McAvoy in which Tavares made contact with Rask. After taking some time to recover, Rask stayed in the game.
Exactly halfway through the period, David Backes sat for two thanks to a high sticking penalty. Auston Matthews potted a cross-crease pass on the man advantage to give Toronto the lead past the halfway point of the period.
A questionable hooking call on Matt Grzelcyk gave Toronto another opportunity to convert on the power play and they did. It was 3-1 Toronto with 2:48 left. Shortly after, Jake Muzzin went off for holding within the final two minutes of the period.
A resilient goal on the power play came from Charlie Coyle’s second of the series in the final minute, cutting the lead to two with 37.7 seconds remaining. Danton Heinen and Grzlecyk had the assists, Heinen’s was his first of the playoffs, Grzelcyk’s was his second.
Toronto took over on the score sheet and in the shot department, outshooting the Bruins 16-11 in the period and holding a one-goal lead heading into the third period. Overall, the shots were even through two periods.
Score: 3-2 Toronto
Just past the 15-minute mark, Nikita Zaitsev went off for delay of game. The Bruins held possessed the puck fairly well for a good chunk of the man advantage, but couldn’t convert.
Toronto way breaking the puck out of their own zone too easily at times. There just wasn’t much of an offensive x-factor. Some poor decisions with and without the puck made things even more difficult. They needed to channel more of what they had in game two.
Bruce Cassidy pulled Rask in the final two minutes and took a timeout with 1:05 to go. John Tavares was killing Patrice Bergeron on the dot late, winning five straight in the final six and a half minutes. The Bruins’ effort late simply wasn’t enough, and Frederik Andersen came up huge for the Leafs. The final shots 36-34 Bruins. Next up is game four on Wednesday in Toronto at 7:00 PM.