If you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs fan this game is going to sting for quite some time. With just over 10 minutes left the Leafs held a 4-1 lead over a deflated Boston Bruins team. Toronto looked to be in good shape until a Nathan Horton goal started a late game meltdown of epic proportions.
Once the Bruins made it 4-2 the Leafs seemed to lose their aggressiveness and let Boston dictate the entire play. Goals by Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron sent the contest to overtime, and then Bergeron won it early on in the extra frame. The Leafs had a golden opportunity to take advantage of a depleted Bruins defense. Andrew Ference and Wade Redden didn’t play because of injuries, and Dennis Seidenberg only lasted one shift, Toronto couldn’t capitalize though.
Here are some things that stood out from the game.
Franson chipped in with two goals tonight and may have been the hero had the Leafs been able to pull it off. He’s had a strong season and as a RFA the Leafs need to lock him up this summer. The pair of Franson and Jake Gardiner really clicked against Boston and it will be nice to see what they can do for an entire campaign.
Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri
Kadri finally broke out of his goal scoring slump and the two combined for two goals and two assists on this night, but it wasn’t enough. Leaf fans should be encouraged though that both Kessel and Kadri have a decent chemistry together. With Tyler Bozak now a UFA, Kadri very well could become the team’s number one centre and play heavy minutes alongside Kessel next season.
Matt Frattin’s Miss
With the Leafs leading 4-2 Frattin broke in on a breakaway late in the game. He made a great move and had Tuukka Rask beat, but wasn’t able to elevate the puck. Had he been able to find the back of the net at that point, the Leafs would have taken much of the momentum back and likely would have sealed a win. Then again, with the way the played in the third period, who knows?
The Leafs finally started showing their age late in the third period. One of the youngest teams in the league wilted under the pressure of closing out a series. Blowing the lead was one thing, but Toronto looked stunned and in a haze even during the overtime. The Bruins on the other hand squandered a 3-1 series lead and were almost down and out in Game 7, but their experience came through and they rallied for the win.
As tough as this is for the organization and fans to digest, this may be the best thing to happen to this inexperienced squad. The Leafs now understand the agony of defeat and what it actually takes to put a team like the Bruins away. Hopefully they learn from this and come back stronger in 2013-14. Let’s not forget the strides and growth this group made this year.