After falling apart in the third period, the Toronto Maple Leafs looked to earn a split of the first two games against the Boston Bruins. Although they controlled the play at times, they had no answer for the quick-hitting Bruins, headlined by the six-point effort of David Pastrnak.
The top line of Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, and Brad Marchand combined to register 14 points, as the Bruins took advantage of every opportunity in a 7-3 win over the Maple Leafs.
If you were going to make a list of all-time worst playoff periods, the conversation could quite possibly begin, and end, with this one for the Maple Leafs.
Boston made the most of their opportunities, scoring four times on just eight shots, chasing Maple Leafs’ goaltender Frederik Andersen in the process.
Toronto actually controlled the puck possession numbers, controlling 65.38% of the shot attempts while at five-on-five. It was the power play that was the killer for Toronto, as Boston scored on both man-advantage opportunities.
Pastrnak opened up the scoring, showcasing his skill in front of the net in going from forehand to backhand to beat Andersen after receiving a no-look pass from Torey Krug.
Jake Debrusk, Kevan Miller, and Rick Nash all scored for the Bruins as well in the first, all set up at or near the front of the net.
Andersen struggled obviously when the Bruins are allowed to operate in front of the net like they were, or get lucky bounces like when Miller scored, any goaltender is going to have little chance to succeed. Boston scored all four of their first period goals on just eight shots overall.
Mike Babcock changed up the lines to start the period, and it paid immediate dividends.
Babcock shifted William Nylander to center and flanked him with Zach Hyman and Mitch Marner.
After the dynamic Marner forced a turnover on Krejci and eventually played a give-and-go with Hyman, scoring his second career playoff goal.
After the Maple Leafs were able to cut into the Bruins’ lead, a bad turnover by Ron Hainsey resulted in a goal by David Krejci.
Morgan Reilly later set up a sequence of events by keeping the puck in at the blue line that ended up with Tyler Bozak redirecting in a Connor Brown centering attempt.
Toronto continued to control the pace of play, more so towards the end of the period and after not really being tested early on, Tuukka Rask was forced to make some big saves to get the lead at three.
Toronto carried all the momentum from the second into the final frame, getting two early power plays, and firing the first 10 shots on goal before Boston tested Curtis McElhinney.
But for everything the Leafs built up, it was ruined on Pastrnak’s second of the night. After Jake Gardiner made a nice play on a Marchand breakaway, Pastrnak was able to pick up the loose puck and bury it past McElhinney.
For good measure, Pastrnak capped off the hat trick, pitching in a total of six points on the night, giving him NINE overall in the first two games of the series.
- It shouldn’t take a six-point performance to realize that Pastrnak isn’t a product of playing with perhaps the best duo in hockey right now. Throw him in and you got the best line in the sport. Pastrnak, still just 21-years-old, is coming off a career-high 80 points and you just feel like there is more there for him to improve upon.
- The Maple Leafs, somehow, didn’t play that bad of a game, at least in the neutral and offensive zone. Once the puck went into the defensive zone - which wasn’t often, Toronto owned the shot attempt chart with a 51-30 (62.96%) advantage - it was a completely different story.
Turnovers, weak positioning, and just not picking up an open shooter, it all went wrong for the Maple Leafs defensively.
- Look no further than Kasperi Kapanen to tell the tale of the game. When he was on the ice at 5v5, the Leafs dominated the puck possession (75 CF%) and scoring chance (81.82 SCF%) but was still outscored by two. The Bruins only managed five shot attempts while Kapanen was on the ice, but scored on two of them.
Analytics don’t tell the whole tale but shows how much the Maple Leafs controlled the game, and how the Bruins capitalized on each opportunity.
The Maple Leafs will look for answers as the series shifts to Toronto, with Game 3 set to be played on Monday, at 7 pm ET and will be televised on NBC Sports Net.
Do the Maple Leafs have any chance of coming back in this series? What would need to be done in order for any comeback to be attempted? Let us know in the comment section below!