The desperate Leafs came to play. Of course, the Bruins were going to send their first line out there - if it ain't broke, don't fix it and, if it's wrecking them, double down on the status quo.
Auston Matthews got the go-ahead goal in the second period, Patrick Marleau scored twice, and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 4-2 on Monday night in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.
After combining for a ridiculous 20 points in the first two games of the series, the obvious key to success for both the Bruins and Leafs would be the production of the B's first line. Nylander must have been listening, because by the end of the second period he and Matthews were flying like it was the regular season.
Pastrnak (four goals, five assists), Marchand (one goal, five assists) and Bergeron (five assists) had their way with Toronto through the first two games, but the Leafs held Boston's big line at bay thanks in large part to Marner, Marleau and Tomas Plekanec. "We had some confidence coming back on home ice with how we played to finish the regular season". Game time is yet to be determined. In fact, they were a combined minus-7 in the +/- stat line. First it was Adam McQuaid's blast sneaking under the pad of Frederik Andersen to erase James van Riemsdyk's icebreaker, the later Zdeno Chara's goal to wipe out Patrick Marleau's first postseason marker as a Leaf.
The Maple Leafs also had the speed back in their game. "We knew they were going to come hard, and they did, but we responded pretty well". While the hits added up and helped Toronto win for the first time this series, they also made you wonder what the long-term effects may be.
San Jose will look to complete the sweep in Game 4 at home Wednesday night.
"Certainly not the difference in the game, but you don't want to play from behind", said Cassidy.
But it was Matthews' goal, the product of Toronto's stars exacting a measure of revenge on Boston's with a sustained bout of possession in the offensive zone, that seemed to instil the confidence his teammates needed to survive the waves of return pressure.
As Andersen goes, so do the Leafs. Together Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak logged nine shifts, basically in a matchup against the same Leafs forwards and blue-liners and in total the Bruins' first line managed one shot. But, much like he's done throughout his career, the Leafs workhorse was back to haunting the Black and Gold en route to a solid 40-save night. Pastrnak fired it on target at an open net from the low-faceoff circle, but Andersen dove to his left and got the paddle of his stick on the puck to preserve the final score.
Not bad for a goalie that had a 6.67 goals against average and a sub-.900 save percentage in the first two games. Maybe if it were five years ago or so, somewhere near his prime in Montreal, you'd give Plekanec a good chance of it working out.
Out of necessity, Toronto head coach Mike Babcock had to come up with a new plan to check Bergeron, Marchand and Pastrnak. We talked about Auston [Matthews] and Freddie is one of those guys that has to feel like he's back. Overall, this was the best period we have seen the Leafs play in the entire series.
Andersen was quite good, as was another player that Babcock mentioned in the aforementioned comment. They were dominating the Toronto Maple Leafs, but that all changed on Monday night.
Later in the second, Zdeno Chara tied the game at two with a handsome top shelf goal you'd expect to see from one of the Bruins' top line players.
Donskoi scored and then set up Marcus Sorensen in the opening four minutes of the second period to seize control of the game and series. "We'll have to look at it and be better".
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The home side couldn't capitalise, with Blyde putting a try-saving tackle on Emma Tonegato just metres short of the line. The victor of that match will progress through to the semi-finals and the loser will be out of medal contention.