(Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports)
By Mike Cratty | Follow me on Twitter @Mike_Cratty
Home: Toronto Maple Leafs
Away: Boston Bruins
Marchand – Bergeron – Heinen
DeBrusk – Krejci – Pastrnak
Johansson – Coyle – Backes
Nordstrom – Acciari – Wagner
Chara – McAvoy
Krug – Carlo
Moore – Grzelcyk
Hyman – Tavares – Marner
Johnsson – Matthews – Kapanen
Marleau – Nylander – Brown
Ennis – Gauthier – Moore
Reilly – Hainsey
Muzzin – Zaitsev
Gardiner – Dermott
Shortly after Zdeno Chara flattened Mitch Marner right after the puck dropped, Joakim Nordstrom drew an early penalty on Connor Brown. Charlie McAvoy made no mistake off of a one-timer from Patrice Bergeron’s office in the slot to give the Bruins a one-goal lead early, McAvoy’s first of the playoffs. Charlie Coyle’s first assist of the playoffs, and Matt Grzelcyk’s third made it happen. Three former Boston University Terriers in on the goal, solid start for the Bruins.
That wasn’t all, the simplification of the Bruins’ game continued. Effective puck pursuit and smart passing set up Brad Marchand’s second goal of the playoffs. Two goals in 3:35. Bergeron (1) and Heinen (2) had the helpers. 2-0 lead less than seven minutes in.
Fast forward to the 6:31 mark and Bergeron found himself in the box for interference. Toronto was held to just one shot and no goals on their first power play, but their second power play came in close proximity to the end of their first one. This time in the form of an interference call on McAvoy.
Toronto failed to score on either power play, but Zach Hyman managed to get a piece of a Morgan Reilly shot and deflect it past Tuukka Rask. This came shortly after the second power play and cut the Bruins’ lead to one with 2:05 remaining in the period.
The Bruins managed to hold a one-goal lead heading into the room, but needed to find a way to stifle Toronto’s momentum in the second frame. Overall, Rask played well in net and the team came out on a mission, but there will still 40 minutes to go. The shots were 14-12 Bruins in the first period.
Score: 2-1 Boston
Auston Matthews wasted no time capitalizing on Toronto’s momentum from late in the first period, tying the game at two.
David Pastrnak responded 2:09 later, redirecting a feed from Marchand past Andersen and in, regaining the lead for the Bruins. Pastrnak’s first of the playoffs assisted by Marchand (3) and Bergeron (1).
More good fortune came their way, not for McAvoy, but for the team in the form of a roughing penalty on Matthews. Persistence in the vicinity of Frederik Andersen from the Bruins’ first power play unit led to a second goal for Pastrnak, giving the Bruins a two-goal lead. Marchand’s fourth assist of the playoffs was the lone assist on the goal.
Despite holding a two-goal lead again, things were not peachy for the Bruins. Toronto did not slow down offensively and generated some solid chances. Amongst these chances was a huge stop by Rask on Connor Brown.
By the final two minutes of the period, the Bruins had 18 blocked shots to the seven for the Leafs. One of those came in the form of Marcus Johansson going slowly to the bench off a big block on a Travis Dermott shot from the point. Despite chances coming from Toronto, the Bruins remained resilient.
Although they were outshot 14-8 in the period, a huge response from David Pastrnak and the Bruins had them back on top by two heading into the final frame.
Score: 4-2 Boston
The Bruins’ wise leader, Zdeno Chara took his time at the blue line and made it a three-goal lead for the Bruins 5:39 into the period, a huge, unassisted insurance goal. The goal marked Chara’s first of the playoffs.
At the 8:18 mark, Hyman took a high stick from McAvoy, putting McAvoy in the box for a second time. Matthews got on the board for a second time early in the power play, making it 5-3. During their next offensive zone stint, Toronto saw a couple more near goals come their way, but Rask said no.
Dermott cut the lead to one on a second chance opportunity from the point. Toronto was thriving on the momentum, the Bruins needed a response. Mike Babcock pulled Andersen with less than two minutes to go with a comeback on his mind.
After a hectic final two minutes, Nordstrom buried an empty netter with two minutes left to seal the deal. Nordstrom’s first of the playoffs was assisted by David Krejci (1).
The series is tied at two heading towards game five on Friday at 7 PM at TD Garden.