The Boston Bruins picked up a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Buds first home playoff game in nine years. The Bruins were powered by scoring two goals in two minutes late in the second period to take the wind out of the Leafs’ sails. Jake Gardiner had just cut the deficit to 2-1, but Boston destroyed any momentum with a strong response.
The Leafs made it a game again early in the third when Phil Kessel scored for the second straight contest. The 4-2 score, however, would be the closest the Leafs would come as the Bruins survived a fury of shots by Toronto in the final period. An empty-netter silenced a raucous Air Canada Centre crowd and the Leafs will need to rebound Wednesday in order to avoid going down 3-1.
Here some things that stood out from the game.
Rask was the difference in this one as unlike the last couple of months, Toronto out shot their opponent and generated plenty of scoring chances. Rask made 45 saves and looked calm and under control in net the entire night. He was especially strong in the third period when the Leafs were all over the Bruins, out shooting them 18-5. Toronto pushed hard for the tie, but Rask was equal to the task and has made Boston fans pretty much forget about Tim Thomas. If only the Leafs had the opportunity to draft someone with Rask’s talent. Oh, right…..
The Bruins Big Three
The last thing the Leafs needed was Milan Lucic to look interested all of a sudden, but that’s exactly what happened on Monday night. Lucic looks like he is starting to bounce back from some of the poor play he showed in the last month of the season. He chipped in with three assists tonight and was much more of a force physically, while the trio of Nathan Horton, David Krejci, and Lucic combined for eight points and a plus-9 rating. It doesn’t need to be said that the Leafs will need to slow them down to get back into the series.
Cody Franson and Jake Gardiner
Gardiner and Franson did a lot of good things tonight, but unfortunately they did some bad things as well. As far as good goes, each is very confident with the puck and really helps spark the offense from the blueline. Gardiner opened the scoring for the Leafs and Franson chipped in with an assist on Kessel’s goal. Not to mention that they played over 20 minutes a piece and Franson led the Leafs in ice-time, and led both teams in shots on goal with seven.
The problem is Franson and Gardiner were also a combined minus-4 and had eight giveaways between them. Gardiner still needs time to learn the NHL game, which is why it would have made sense to play him more in the regular season, as opposed to scratching him in favour of Mike Kostka. The Leafs need his puck moving ability in the lineup though and are just going to have to live with the mistakes for now.
Traffic In Front
The Bruins first goal came on a point shot that looked like James Reimer had trouble seeing. Dion Phaneuf was standing right in front of him and appeared to have obstructed his view. Boston has scored several goals in this series that way already and Toronto has to do a better job of clearing the space. If the Bruins have someone standing there he must be removed, and if they don’t either block the shot, or get out of the way so Reimer can see it.
Kadri was basically invisible tonight and hasn’t done much in the entire series, other than a nice pass on the Kessel goal in Game 2. It’s easy to forget he is still young with they way he performed this year, but the Leafs have really come to rely on his offense. It might be worth it to give him some additional shifts with Kessel or Joffrey Lupul just to get him going.