By: Max Mainville | Check me out on Twitter @tkdmaxbjj
On Wednesday night, the Boston Bruins tied up their Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals series against the Toronto Maple Leafs with a 6-4 victory in Toronto. With the win, Boston regains home-ice advantage in what is now a best-of-three series. The winner of tonight’s Game 5 will have the opportunity to end the series on Sunday in Game 6.
Arena: TD Garden – Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Home: Boston Bruins (2-2)
Away: Toronto Maple Leafs (2-2)
Last Game Result: Bruins won 6-4
Bruins Gameday Lineup:
Sean Kuraly makes his long-awaited return to the lineup after dealing with a hand injury since late March while Joakim Nordstrom is the healthy scratch to allow Kuraly back in the forward lines.
The first period for this critical Game 5 was back and forth for all twenty minutes but at no time did either team “dominate” the other. Bruce Cassidy went with the Wagner-Kuraly-Acciari against that top line of the Maple Leafs off the opening draw, but as the period went on, we began to see more of a Bergeron/Tavares matchup on the ice.
The Leafs did have a lot of pressure in the offensive zone, putting some good shots on Tuukka Rask in the first half of the period, but the Bruins managed to get the puck out of the zone most of the time. On too many occasions, Toronto had possession of the puck and winning the battles along the boards.
Regardless, Rask made the saves he needed to make and Boston did get a few opportunities on some rushes of their own. Both Toronto and Boston stayed firm in the defensive zone, protecting the middle of the ice and forcing the offence to use the outside of the zone to get their chances. Neither team is making many mistakes and it made for a tight frame.
With three minutes to go, Zach Hyman gets called on a tripping minor that many people think was a light call, however, Boston is going to the first power-play of the game. On the man-advantage, both David Pastrnak and Jake DeBrusk get close chances, but either the shot missed the cage, or was stopped by Frederik Andersen. Bruins cannot score and the buzzer sounds for the first.
After the whistle, Auston Matthews took some shots at Zdeno Chara to try and get under the skin of the captain but to no avail. It was much better last six minutes for the Bruins than Toronto and that momentum needs to be used heading into an important second period.
Shots On Goal: BOS: 6 TOR: 7
Toronto opens the second period with some good shots but Tuukka Rask looks a lot calmer and relaxed at this stage of the game compared to Wednesday in Toronto. Auston Matthews took some shots at the chest of Rask as well as some slight deflection shots but score stays scoreless.
Less than five minutes into the frame, Boston begins to make some passes around the Maple Leafs’ zone, resulting in a hooking minor against Patrick Marleau on David Krejci. Some of the best chances so far on the end of either team came from that man-advantage, including a Pastrnak one-timer that bounced off of Andersen’s pads. Other than that, the Leafs kill the penalty off and we return to 5-on-5.
Nearing the halfway mark of the middle regulation period, the Bruins get a chance off of Brad Marchand wrist shot that leaves a sneaky rebound to David Pastrnak. Pastrnak’s rebound is batted off of the iron and the side of Andersen and remains out of the net. The Bruins continue the strong offence, but the Leafs are exhausted. A bouncing puck around the boards leads to Mitch Marner who golf swings his stick, hitting the puck up and over the glass – delay-of-game penalty and B’s are back to the power-play.
A weird bouncing rebound off Andersen somehow sets up Kasperi Kapanen on a shorthanded breakaway. Fortunately, Kapanen misses the net high and wide. Bruins, still on the man-advantage, turn it over in the neutral zone, leading Hyman to drive into the zone. Hyman is cut off but crashes hard into the end boards. He is slow to get up to his feet, similar to Game 4. Ultimately, Hyman remains on the bench in some discomfort and the Bruins’ terrible power-play ends there.
Easily the best chance of the game so far comes from David Krejci’s stick. Marchand left the puck for Krejci who took a quick shot and it appeared to cross the line. Even Pastrnak thought it went in, but the call on the ice was no goal by the official by the net. After seeing the replay, the shot rifled where the crossbar and the post meet, cleanly beating Andersen but the game remains nodded at zero.
Late in the frame, still 0-0, Tyler Ennis makes a strong move to the net around Matt Grzelcyk, curling in front of Rask but Tuukka stays strong and firm, stopping the chance cleanly. About a minute following, Kapanen takes a rip at Rask as well and cannot find the back of the net. Game 5 heads into the third and final period with a 0-0 tie.
It has been a very tight, defense-first type of hockey game with neither team giving up a chance to score or even get high-quality shots on goal. Only a combined 31 shots have hit the goaltenders and that is due to the lack of shots hitting the net and the high traffic in the slot area. In addition to the middle-heavy defence, shots are coming from the point. It really seems like the next goal scored with be the game-winning tally.
Shots On Goal: BOS: 15 TOR: 16
In a game where it truly seems like the next goal will win it, both teams come out with Boston taking the best chances early. A few icing calls against Toronto led to some shots against the tired Leafs unit. Sean Kuraly also got a short rush and ripped a quick wrister that hit Travis Dermott and then fell over top of Dermott. Good chances but still nothing.
Not long after, the Leafs try to get a rush of their own with Connor Brown, who has had a great game all over the ice, takes a shot that hits the side of the cage and gloved down by Rask. At the same time, Brown gets absolutely levelled by Chris Wagner with a hard collision. Charlie Coyle came right back with one of his own as well. Not many hard hits, but Boston may look to go that route at this stage.
With around 12 minutes left to tick away in the third, right before the TV timeout, the Bruins are called on a too-many-men call. A tough call to hear – sending Toronto to their first power-play of the night. Toronto blasted some bombs and got some solid shots on net too, but Boston holds on to kill the entire two minutes off.
With 8:27 remaining, Jake Muzzin makes a brilliant feed to Auston Matthews on the opposite side of the zone who blasts it past Rask to finally put a goal on the board. However, Cassidy challenges for goalie interference on Zach Hyman. On the screen, it appears that there was some contact with Rask in front of the net, but the call on the ice stands – good goal. 1-0 Toronto.
The game started to open up following that goal and it showed. Some intelligent passes by the Leafs lead to a 3-on-2 rush for Toronto – leading to a Kapanen goal past Tuukka Rask. After a tight forty minutes, Toronto takes a 2-0 lead in the game and the Bruins are looking in a tough spot.
The trio of Coyle, McAvoy, and Johansson had some fantastic chances in the dying three minutes with Rask on the bench but somehow the puck never crossed the goal line. Every time it appeared to be close, Andersen or a defenceman somehow got a piece of the puck.
With the goalie pulled, amazing patience by Pastrnak to fake a shot and pass it to Krejci on the other side of Frederik Andersen leads to the first goal for Boston with 43.4 seconds to go. There is some life in not only the players but the fans as well.
The Boston Bruins had a few shots, including one off the faceoff with one second remaining, but too little way too late and the Toronto Maple Leafs win Game 5 on the road, taking a 3-2 series lead heading back to Toronto on Sunday.
Shots On Goal: BOS: 29 TOR: 27
Final Score: 2-1 Maple Leafs
Max’s Three Stars
1st Star: TOR G Frederik Andersen – 28 Saves, .966 SV%
2nd Star: TOR F Kasperi Kapanen – 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 3 Shots, 15:56 TOI
3rd Star: TOR F Auston Matthews – 1 Game-Winning Goal, 5 Shots, 17:44 TOI
With Boston’s season on the line, the series goes back to Toronto on Sunday for Game 6. Puck drop scheduled for 3pm EST.