After Saturday night’s hiccup at the Garden in which the Leafs knotted the series, all we heard about was how the Bruins would be heading into the long-gestating playoff maelstrom of Toronto and how it might affect the Bs. Well, the battle-tested team entered the blue-and-white speckled thunderdome and didn’t blink.
Instead, thanks to an incredible 45-save Tuukka Rask performance, the Bruins thoroughly dominated the Leafs last night en route to a 5-2 win to take a 2-1 series lead and perhaps plant a few seeds of doubt into the inexperienced Leafs.
The Bs had a balanced attack, getting goals from three of their four lines and one from the D. Adam McQuaid’s seemingly harmless point shot found the twine behind James Reimer 13:42 of the first to give the Bs they’d never relinquish. Goalmouth tap-ins from Rich Peverley (thanks to a Jaromir Jagr pickpocketing worthy of the Red Line) and Nathan Horton, along with Dan Paille’s sweet breakaway tally gave the Bs a 4-1 lead heading into the third.
Phil Kessel’s power play tally made it 4-2 early in the third but Rask shut the door on Toronto and David Krejci’s empty-netter put a bow on things. Krejci currently leads the NHL in playoff scoring with 2-5–7 totals in just three games (he did that once before…back in 2011).
Though the Bs did take their foot off the gas in the third, they should be a confident bunch after merely playing their game, getting the requisite playoff-caliber goaltending, and winning a game that had a small potential for ugliness. Unlike, say, the Maple Leafs.
A few more buds for you bowl…
*The Bs were once again the better team at the dot, winning 60% of face-offs. Despite his three point night, it was a tough night for Krejci though, as he lost 12 of eighteen draws.
*The Krejci line combined for eight points (2-6–8) and has thoroughly outplayed whoever Randy Carlyle has decided to send over the boards in an attempt to slow them down. Conversely, the Bergeron line has managed just one assist in the three games so far. However, this isn’t unusual in the playoffs. Some lines just line up better against some teams in one series then aren’t as effective in the next one. It just may be that 63-37-19 is feeling the defensive brunt right now. But as long as the team is getting goals elsewhere and winning games, this shouldn’t be an issue going forward.
*Special teams numbers like last night are normally the difference in the playoffs: the Leafs went 2-for-5 on the power play and the Bs went 0-for-3. But it was irrelevant last night because the Bruins simply whipped the Toronto in five-on-five play.
*After struggling to get untracked in the first two games, the third line came to life last night. Peverley, Chris Kelly, and Jagr were swarming on several shifts and it was only a matter of time before the line got on the sheet. Thanks to the stealthy Jagr and a heads-up Peverley, the Bs were able to pad their early lead.
*Hats off to Horton. Despite playing with a sore wing, the former Panther continues to be a big-game player for the Bs. He now has three goals in the series along with one assist. In 24 career playoff games with Boston, Horton has impressive 11-10–21 totals.
*Last night hammered home the point that the goaltending disparity is too big for the Bruins not to win this series. Tuukka made countless huge saves while Reimer had more rebounds than Taylor Swift. The Bs should smell blood today and would be wise to come home with a commanding 3-1 lead.