Matthew Knies Scores OT Winner as Toronto Maple Leafs Stay Alive

Without their best player, and led by new starting goaltender Joseph Woll, the Leafs force a Game 6 back in Toronto after a determined effort on the road.
Apr 30, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Joseph Woll (60) makes a pad save against Trent Frederic (11) of the Boston Bruins.
Apr 30, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Joseph Woll (60) makes a pad save against Trent Frederic (11) of the Boston Bruins. / Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

After being put under the microscope, and a premature obituary already started, the Toronto Maple Leafs responded in the best possible way.

Facing the adversity of a 3-1 series deficit against the Boston Bruins and minus their best player, the Leafs played one of their most determined games of the season, escaping Boston with a 2-1 overtime victory to keep their season alive.

A dominant first thirty minutes of the game, combined with structurally sound defense and phenomenal goaltending from Joseph Woll was the perfect recipe for victory.

The series now heads back to Toronto for Game 6 on Thursday.

Multiple Players Step Up in the Absence of Auston Matthews

The first period was tilted in the Leafs favor. The new first line of Max Domi, Mitch Marner, and Tyler Bertuzzi led the way. The Leafs outshot the Bruins 12-2 and had 30 shot attempts.

Domi was a perfect 10 for 10 on faceoffs. The Leafs first goal, giving them a 1-0 lead, was the result of a Domi faceoff win, a short Marner pass to Jake McCabe whose shot found the back of the net behind Jeremy Swayman. Bertuzzi provided an important screen in front of the net.

The Leafs dominant start was negated by a Bruins goal on only their second shot of the first period. An attempted clearing pass from Simon Benoit hit a Bruins skate and deflected directly to an open Trent Frederic.

A collective, doomsday feeling came over Leafs Nation. Leafs teams of past playoffs have seen that kind of bounce go against them, leading to excruciating results. Instead, the Leafs gathered themselves and persevered.

McCabe and Woll Play Starring Roles in Win

McCabe's goal got the Leafs on the board first to help silence the Boston crowd, but his defensive game was just as critical to the win. He defended well against the Bruins' best players, blocked shots, and made some savvy plays in the defensive zone.

Even more important to the Leafs victory was Woll. He flashed the early-season form that had him on the verge of overtaking Ilya Samsonov as the Leafs number-one goaltender.

Whether it was a hunch, desperation, or a combination of both, head coach Sheldon Keefe made the correct call in starting Woll in this elimination game.

He did not see a lot of shots over the first half of the game but made all the necessary stops. As the game wore on, Woll made numerous critical saves.

During the first period, Woll made a stop on a deflected point shot, then stopped Jesper Boqvist on an attempted deke from in tight.

Another huge save came against Charlie McAvoy in the second period. Third-period ten-bell saves included stopping Charlie Coyle during 4 on 4 play, and a pad save against Frederic in front of the net.

None were as important as stopping Coyle with less than a minute gone in overtime. Not long after that save, captain John Tavares took the puck hard to the net to the left of Swayman. A timely bounce finally went the Leafs way, out to Matthew Knies who was driving the net.

Coming from the Leafs bench, Knies was undetected and deposited the winner at 2:26 of overtime.


Showing some resolve and led by a hot goaltender, the Toronto Maple Leafs have forced the series back to Toronto. Most importantly, their season remains alive.