(Photo Credit: NHL.com)

By: Jason Cooke | Follow me on Twitter / X @cookejournalism

Game Fives haven’t treated the Boston Bruins well. After a lacking start on Tuesday with an opportunity to send the Toronto Maple Leafs home, the visitors stung the Bruins in overtime to force a Game Six on the road. Matthew Knies was the hero for the Leafs, banging home a loose puck in the slot just 2:26 into the extra period to recreate the B’s fate in the fifth game of the opening round last season in a 4-3 overtime defeat to the Florida Panthers.

“We weren’t good enough,” Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said postgame. “Simple as that. Toronto came out ready to play, and they took it to us. We weren’t ready to match their desperation.”

Trent Frederic lit the lamp for Boston, and Jeremy Swayman made 31 saves, but the Bruins couldn’t get over the hump when it mattered the most. Boston will now make the trek to Toronto for Game Six on Thursday.

“It’s frustrating,” said Montgomery. “But we just have to move on to the next game. That’s the playoffs…It’s its own animal. For the majority of the series, we played real good hockey. That’s what we got to get back to on Thursday night.”

The Bruins somehow escaped the first period in a tie hockey game. In what was undoubtedly their worst period of the postseason, Boston totaled just two shots on goal while losing 80% of their faceoffs. As a result, the Leafs broke the ice on Tuesday night, scoring at 5:33 of the period on a shot from the point to take a 1-0 lead.

The goal came on the ensuing draw following a questionable icing from Brandon Carlo, beating Swayman through a screen. Mitch Marner swooped behind Max Domi on the left faceoff circle, picking up a loose puck before one-touching it to Jake McCabe for a one-timer.

Somehow, Boston found a way to knot the score. Frederic netted his third goal of the postseason as a result of some rare offensive zone time for the Bruins. The tally was kickstarted by pressure from Jesper Boqvist and Pat Maroon below the goal line as the puck squirted out to an open Frederic in the slot. The Bruins would go the rest of the frame without another shot on Ilya Samsonov.

“We did it last time we were there,” Frederic said postgame. “Just got to find that same recipe. It’s hard to end a team’s season so we got to go out and be a little more mentally sharp to start.”

And while the second period was much better for the Bruins, it wasn’t a 20-minute effort that sends teams home in a win-and-advance Game Five. The Leafs held an 11-10 shots on goal edge—and if it weren’t for Swayman, the Bruins likely would have headed to the dressing room down at least a goal. Swayman robbed Morgan Rielly on a Toronto power play, sprawling across the blue paint to stone him point-blank.

The Bruins did generate some offense as Justin Brazeau was bumped up to play with Morgan Geekie and James van Riemsdyk, generating two scoring chances in just 2:51 of ice time, according to Natural Stat Trick.

But as goals became harder to come by, tempers began to flare on Causeway. It all started in the final seconds of the second period when a net-front scrum in front of Swayman produced a lengthy scuffle between both sides. After a somewhat lackluster first half of the contest, it started to feel like an elimination game in Boston.

Tension continued to rise in the third, especially between Brad Marchand and Pontus Holmberg. The two exchanged pleasantries for nearly 30 seconds, chasing each other around the Boston offensive zone while fighting for pucks. Holmberg eventually tossed Marchand on the ground, but the event ultimately sent both offenders to the sin bin.

Despite not breaking past Samsonov in the period, that’s not to say the Bruins were without their chances. Marchand whiffed on a bouncing puck in the paint. Danton Heinen missed on a good bid in the slot. Frederic almost potted his second of the game on a desperation denial with a flash of the right pad. But nothing gave for the Bruins as the Leafs switched gears into survival mode.

Despite a few solid chances in overtime from Boston, Knies capitalized on the Leaf’s first chance. However, Swayman isn’t worried about going back to Toronto with this group.

“Our leadership first and foremost,” he said. “The history of this team, the city that we represent, the people in this locker room, the coaching staff…everyone is a great human being and wants the best for one another. And that’s contagious.”