After two lopsided losses (5-1, 7-3) against the Boston Bruins, the Toronto Maple Leafs looked to get their first win in Game 3 at home.
This was a "do-or-die" game for the blue and white, and they headed into the matchup down several key players. Not only were they missing Nazem Kadri (suspension), Leo Komarov was also out of the lineup with a lower-body injury.
The odds were against Toronto but several key players came through, and they were able to come out on Monday night's game with an impressive victory.
JVR spoils Rask's party
The Leafs came out hard with some jump early in the first period. All in all, it was a much better start than Games 1 and 2, as they were already outshooting the Bruins 6-1 by the eight-minute mark.
Boston weathered the storm early and responded quite well with attacks of their own for most of the period.
Tuukka Rask was definitely the story of the period until James van Riemsdyk finally opened the scoring at 17:05, jamming in a loose puck in front of the net on the powerplay.
The Leafs were also the more physical team, dishing out 19 hits to Boston's 11. Overall, this was the best period we have seen the Leafs play in the entire series.
Period of back and forth
The Bruins used the intermission to regain their composure and it seemed to help as they opened the scoring early in the second. Adam McQuaid beat Frederik Andersen with a stoppable point shot that trickled through.
However, the game wasn't tied for long as Patrick Marleau responded 55 seconds later, finishing a beautiful 2-on-1 pass from Mitch Marner.
The momentum shifted once again, as Zdeno Chara tied the game just three minutes later, roofing a shot at a tough angle near the Leafs' net.
After several minutes of back and forth, Auston Matthews finally scored his first point of the series at 14:47, putting the Leafs back up on top again!
This was a period filled with intense back-and-forth action. Both teams exchanged chances but the Maple Leafs were able to come out of the period with the lead once again.
Marleau with the nail in the coffin
The third- period was very fast paced with very few whistles. Boston had several more opportunities than the Leafs and could have easily taken the lead. Frederik Andersen was spectacular, making save after save on what looked liked for sure goals.
The Leafs began to sit back as the period went on until they were able to catch the Bruins off a neutral zone turnover. Veteran Patrick Marleau gave his team a much-needed insurance goal with 3:35 left to make the game 4-2. This proved to be the dagger as Andersen held down the fort the rest of the way.
Despite missing two their best centers, Tomas Plekanec did a wonderful job filling in and keeping Brad Marchand's line off the scoresheet all night. That's quite an accomplishment.
The Leafs top offensive players Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and Patrick Marleau all chipped in offensively which proved to help their team in a big way.
At the same time, it just wasn't the Bruins' night! They had many quality scoring chances and could have easily scored two-to-three more goals.
However, Frederik Andersen was the difference in this game. The 28-year-old had his best game of the series, making 40 saves and was rock steady all night.
Overall, Toronto seemed to have used their speed more in this game, giving the Bruins slower defenders more trouble trying to contain them.
This was a huge win for the Leafs and was a huge step forward for them to bounce back in the series.
If they can bring out another strong performance in Game 4, they might be able to make it a series when Nazem Kadri comes back in Game 5.
What are your thoughts on Game 3 and can the Leafs come back in the series? Let us know in the comment section below.