Leafs earn crucial Game 3 victory
Marleau scores twice and Matthews pots one as Toronto responds at home
TORONTO 4, BOSTON 2
Stand witness, indeed. The Toronto Maple Leafs, all but dead in some corners following the first two games of their first-round series against the Boston Bruins, are back.
Winners of a club-record 29 games at the Air Canada Centre during the regular season, the Leafs shrugged off a couple of dismal results in Boston and beat the Bruins 4-2 on Monday night. The Bruins lead the Eastern Conference best-of-seven 2-1 with Game 4 set for Thursday night in Toronto.
Patrick Marleau scored two goals for the Leafs, including an insurance marker with under four minutes to play on a two-on-one, beating Tuukka Rask on the glove side. The Leafs who hit the ice on Monday night looked a lot like the group that racked up a franchiserecord 105 points during the regular season.
Speed, which had not been as evident in the first two games in Boston, was a defining factor. The Leafs supported each other in the offensive zone, keeping Rask on his toes and ensuring the Bruins defencemen were consistently looking over their shoulders. Goaltender Frederik Andersen might have wanted another shot at the Bruins’ two goals, but he was excellent after, finishing with 40 saves, including a ridiculous stick save on David Pastrnak late in the third period.
The Leafs were confident Andersen would rebound after being pulled in Game 2 and their beliefs were well-founded.
And how about that Patrice Bergeron line, so prolific back at home with a total of 20 points in Games 1 and 2?
Leafs coach Mike Babcock moved Tomas Plekanec up to the second line between Marleau and Mitch Marner, using the trio against Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Pastrnak. While the Bergeron group had its chances, it did not score, and after a couple of months of wandering in the wilderness, Plekanec’s savvy came through. The Plekanec line had five points.
The Leafs were disciplined as well, going short-handed just once after the Bruins scored five power play goals on 10 opportunities in the first two games.
The Leafs carried a 3-2 lead into the second intermission after both teams scored a pair of goals in the second period.
The third Toronto goal came from a couple of familiar sources: Auston Matthews and William Nylander, neither of whom had a point in the first two games. Matthews took a pass from Nylander and beat Rask high at 14:47. Matthews celebrated with glee and, soon after, a chant of “Auston Matth-ews!” went up. The Bruins’ two goals came on shots Andersen should have stopped, and neither came from who you would call usual suspects. Defenceman Adam McQuaid, who had one goal in 38 games during the regular season, tied the game 1-1 at 3:06 when his shot from the point squeaked in under Andersen’s left leg and over the goal line.
The crowd of 19,663 might have wondered how the Leafs would respond. They didn’t for long. Marner, whose hand-eye coordination is the envy of many across the NHL, corralled a Morgan Rielly pass at the Bruins blue line and waited for Marleau to get a burst of speed. Then it was a pass to Marleau’s tape, with the puck winding up under Rask and into the net just 43 seconds after the McQuaid goal. The Leafs’ joy dissipated soon, however. Zdeno Chara, not exactly boasting the softest hands, beat Andersen from a sharp angle at 6:19, scoring off Andersen’s mask. The Leafs had their first lead of the series when James van Riemsdyk scored a power-play goal at 17:05 of the first period, setting up in his office at the edge of the crease and popping a Tyler Bozak rebound past Rask.
That goal sent an already-frenzied crowd into overdrive, waving the white towels that each had waiting at his or her seat upon arrival.
Said van Riemsdyk after the morning skate: “We have a lot of confident players on our team and there is always going to be adversity over the course of a season. You have to be able to respond in those moments, and as a team collectively we have been able to respond (well) when we’ve hit some adversity during the course of the year.”
Already without the suspended Nazem Kadri and the injured Leo Komarov, the Leafs looked to have lost speedy rookie Andreas Johnsson in the third period after Johnsson and Marchand collided in the Leafs’ end.
Johnsson fell to the ice, favouring his left leg, and had to be helped to the dressing room. After missing a couple of shifts, Johnsson returned.
During his morning availability, Babcock said Komarov will skate on Tuesday and Wednesday and will be a game-time decision for Game 4.
Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews celebrates his second period goal against the Boston Bruins in Game 3 of the first round series at the Air Canada Centre, in a game the desperate Leafs won 4-2 after dropping the first two contests in Boston...
Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk scored the first goal of the game on Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask and was promptly swarmed by teammates Monday night at the Air Canada Centre.