(Photo Credit: Brian Fluharty/Getty Images)

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

Auston Matthews and a wide-open net: a scenario every team across the National Hockey League never hopes to find themselves in. So when the Boston Bruins eyed the seasoned sniper staring down a blank six-by-four while holding a 1-0 lead in the first period, it looked like Game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs was tied.

Matthews surprisingly rang the post, and the Bruins made him pay. Just seconds later, Brandon Carlo teed up a slapshot, sailing past Ilya Samsonov to light the lamp and send the TD Garden into a towel-waving frenzy. Jake DeBrusk netted a pair of goals, and Johnny Beecher found twine in front of a 35-save effort from Jeremy Swayman as the Bruins topped the Toronto Maple Leafs, 5-1, to take a 1-0 series lead at the TD Garden on Saturday night. Here are three takeaways from the win:

Fourth Line Shines

Jim Montgomery’s fourth line started the party on Causeway Street when Beecher scored his first career playoff goal on a pass from Jesper Boqvist. The whole line factored into the goal as Pat Maroon picked up the secondary assist.

“I thought Beecher was really good,” Montgomery said. “I think that’s the best game he’s ever played.”

The line continued to cause problems all period, pushing the pace of play with their speed and physicality. Timothy Liljegren was met with a thundering hit from Maroon later in the frame, decking him over the boards and into the Boston bench. Maroon registered five hits in his Bruins playoff debut.

“I thought we played a solid game today,” Maroon said. “Obviously, they made a push there in the third to put us back in our heels. I thought we responded.

“We just played simple. We talked before the game, just play simple hockey and don’t force anything. Get it below the top of the circles and try to go to work, go high to low, and create some havoc.”

Power Play Delivers

The Bruins’ man advantage was among the many question marks heading into their first-round bout with the Leafs. Boston skidded into the postseason with a dysfunctional power play, forcing Montgomery to change his two units, which bumped Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy off the top grouping. However, they found themselves on the ice for a second-period power play and worked their magic. DeBrusk collected a pass from McAvoy, ringing a wrist shot off the iron and in to put Boston up 3-0.

“I think it just gives different looks,” DeBrusk said of the change. “Obviously, we have a lot of talented players. It’s one of those things where we try to have a 1A and 1B type of power play, which all teams want to do. A lot of competitiveness in practice. I played with Marchy down low before, so there’s a lot of familiarity.”

DeBrusk—and the Boston power play—didn’t stop there. Marchand feathered a bump pass to DeBrusk on the doorstep, sneaking a chip shot over Samsanov’s pad to cash in his second goal of the game. The Bruins moved the puck, found open space, and executed their power play like an elite playoff team. The Bruins will surely hope to continue that momentum into game 2 on Monday.

Swayman Earns First Playoff Victory

Along with the struggling power play, the Bruins’ goaltending situation was another question mark as the B’s transitioned to playoff hockey. After rotating Swayman and Linus Ullmark throughout their 82-game slate, it was unsure if the Bruins would stay put with their platoon or stick with one netminder like they did last postseason. While we still don’t know if Ullmark will get the net on Monday, one thing is for sure: Swayman stood on his head on Saturday.

“It was a dream come true,” Swayman said. It’s such a privilege to play in this league and for this city. Taking that first lap, hearing the fans, and seeing the towels is an emotional feeling.”

Swayman set the tone early by stoning Nicholas Robertson with a kick-save in the opening minutes of the first period, which was a precursor to the 25-year-old’s performance. Swayman was sharp but noticeably relaxed and collected in the young goaltender’s first playoff start since game 7 of the B’s first-round exit last year at the hands of the Panthers. After the game, Montgomery stated it would be “hard to go away” from Swayman in game 2, but there are no definitive plans as of yet.

(Photo Credit: Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)