Leafs beat Bruins to take 3-2 series lead

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports - Joshua CLIPPERTON

BOSTON — Aus­ton Matthews snapped a score­less tie in the third pe­riod as the Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Boston Bruins 2-1 on Fri­day to take a 3-2 lead in their best-of-seven East­ern Con­fer­ence quar­ter­fi­nal.

Kasperi Ka­pa­nen, with a goal and an as­sist, also scored for Toronto. Fred­erik An­der­sen made 28 saves.

David Kre­jci replied for Boston. Tuukka Rask stopped 25 shots.

The Leafs will look to wrap up the series at Sco­tia­bank Arena on Sun­day af­ter­noon.

Game 7, if nec­es­sary, would be back at Boston’s TD Gar­den on Tues­day.

The win­ner for Toronto came af­ter Matthews took a pass from Jake Muzzin and wired a one-timer be­yond Rask for his fourth of the play­offs with 8:27 left in reg­u­la­tion.

The Bruins chal­lenged for goalie in­ter­fer­ence on Zach Hy­man, but the call on the ice stood af­ter video re­view.

The goal was also the fourth in the three games for Matthews, who, with his head down, pounded the dasher board on the bench in cel­e­bra­tion when the goal was con­firmed.

Ka­pa­nen, who came in with zero points in the series, helped set up his team’s first, and then scored its second when he fin­ished off a 3-on-2 just 2:12 later.

Boston pulled Rask with un­der three minutes to go, and Kre­jci got the home side within one with 44 sec­onds left, which stood af­ter a re­view for off­side.

But Toronto held firm and will go home with a chance close out the Bruins for the fran­chise’s first series win since 2004.

Score­less through 40 minutes, Leafs de­fence­man Travis Der­mott made a huge shot block on Sean Ku­raly early in the third.

The Leafs got their first power play – af­ter get­ting whis­tled for three against – when the Bruins were called for too many men on the ice, but couldn’t get any­thing through de­spite some good pres­sure be­fore Matthews broke the dead­lock.

The Leafs missed a big chance to grab a 3-1 stran­gle­hold at Sco­tia­bank Arena in Game 5, fall­ing be­hind 2-0 early and 5-2 in the third pe­riod be­fore a late rally came up short in a 6-4 loss.

Boston, which beat Toronto in seven games both last spring and in 2013 at the same stage of the play­offs, got its second power play of the evening early in the second, but An­der­sen stopped Pa­trice Berg­eron on the Bruins’ best chance.

The Leafs goalie made an­other good save later in the pe­riod on Brad Marc­hand be­fore Mitch Marner fired the puck over the glass to hand the home side its third straight man ad­van­tage.

But the only real op­por­tu­nity came when Ka­pa­nen, who en­tered with three points in his last 19 games, fired high over Rask’s net on a short-handed break­away.

The winger scored on a sim­i­lar play while killing a penalty last spring – a goal that gave Toronto a 4-3 lead in Game 7.

Boston ap­peared to go ahead with 7:21 left in the pe­riod, but Kre­jci’s shot that looked to have gone in at first glance hit the post and stayed out, much to the cha­grin of the mostly black-and-yel­low clad 17,565 at TD Gar­den.

Tyler En­nis had an­other look for Toronto, step­ping around Matt Grzel­cyk off the rush only to have Rask get a glove on his short­side ef­fort.

Af­ter being largely held in check through the first nine pe­ri­ods of the series at 5 on 5, the Bruins’ top line of Marc­hand, Berg­eron and David Pas­tr­nak reg­is­tered six points in Game 4, al­though the lat­ter played with Kre­jci and Jake DeBrusk most of the night as head coach Bruce Cas­sidy gave the Leafs a dif­fer­ent setup.

Those com­bi­na­tions con­tin­ued early Fri­day, with Dan­ton Heinen against skat­ing on the right side with Marc­hand and Berg­eron, un­til Pas­tr­nak was re­united with his usual line­mates in the second.

Trail­ing the Bruins 3-1 in the series at this time last year, the Leafs pulled off a 4-3 vic­tory at TD Gar­den to force Game 6 back in Toronto. The Leafs would win that one 3-1, but fell 7-4 in Game 7 in Boston af­ter leading 4-3 through two pe­ri­ods.

Toronto car­ried over its strong play late in Game 4 into Fri­day’s open­ing pe­riod, but failed to gen­er­ate any qual­ity chances other than a de­flec­tion off the stick of Matthews that Rask handled.

Boston started to push near the mid­way point, with Pas­tr­nak and DeBrusk com­ing close from in tight.

The Bruins got a power play, which had torched the Leafs for five goals on 11 chances through four games, but the vis­i­tors held firm. An­der­sen made a cou­ple of big stops, in­clud­ing one on Berg­eron.

Notes: Ku­raly re­turned to Boston’s fourth line af­ter break­ing his right hand on March 21. Joakin Nord­strom was a healthy scratch . ... Puck drop Sun­day is set for 3 p.m. ET. Boston played 12 af­ter­noon games in the reg­u­lar sea­son, while Toronto suited up for only one – Jan. 3 at home against Min­nesota.

AP PHOTO

Toronto Maple Leafs’ John Tavares (91) tries to get a shot on Boston Bruins’ Tuukka Rask (40) dur­ing the third pe­riod in Game 5 of an NHL hockey first-round play­off series in Boston on Fri­day.

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