The Toronto Maple Leafs had an opportunity to even out the series on Thursday night against the Boston Bruins.
On paper, it looked like the Leafs had a real shot, as the Bruins announced that their best center Patrice Bergeron would not be able to play in Game 4.
Disappointingly, the Leafs were unable to salvage the opportunity and now face an uphill battle, down 3-1 going back to Boston.
Leafs stunned early, but come back strong in first
Overall, the Leafs looked a lot less inspired in Game 4 and was a far cry from what we saw in Game 3.
Perhaps it didn't help that Bruins' defenseman Torey Krug was able to open up the scoring with a harmless looking shot from the top of the circle, just 28 seconds into the game.
It was a shot Frederik Andersen should have had, and seemed to have deflated the bench. Toronto was stunned early and the air was sucked out of the Air Canada Centre.
For the next several minutes, the Leafs looked rather disorganized and didn't find their game until the seven-minute mark when Tomas Plekanec was able to bury a nice-one timer to even the score at one apiece.
From then on both teams traded chances and the period was pretty even the rest of the way.
Key differences in the game
Despite heading into the second tied 1-1, the Bruins were the better team and deserved to win the game.
Simply put, there were three key differences that decided the game.
1.) The play of Tuukka Rask
The play of Tuukka Rask was absolutely phenomenal.
Despite the Bruins being outshot 31-20, Rask turned away 30-of-31 shots and never really gave the Leafs a chance to take over the game.
Rask stopped everything the Leafs threw at him. He made many highlight-reel saves including this amazing save on Mitch Marner when the game was tied in the second.
2.) Leafs made key mistakes, and the Bruins capitalized
This was probably the biggest difference in the game!
Mitch Marner said it best in an interview; "We gave them opportunities and they didn’t miss."
With the scored tied at 1-1 near the end of the second period, the Bruins got their break and capitalized.
Brad Marchand finished-off a beautiful two-on-one play, caused by a bad pinch from Leafs' defenseman Jake Gardiner.
The Leafs didn't learn their lesson as they made a very similar mistake early in the third.
Travis Dermott fired a shot into the defenders' shin pad which led to another two-on-one, and rookie Jake DeBrusk made no mistake to make the game 3-1.
From that point on, the Bruins locked things down and did not allow the Leafs many good scoring opportunities to swing the momentum in their favor.
3.) Leafs' key players were invisible
Another reason the Leafs weren't able to win Game 4 was that several of their key players didn't show up.
Aside from Mitch Marner, several of Toronto's key players were invisible for most of the evening. The list includes Auston Matthews, Patrick Marleau, and James Van Riemsdyk. The trio was spectacular in Game 3 and made a huge impact, but were nowhere to be seen yesterday.
On the other hand, Boston's key players (Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Torey Krug) all came to play and found their way onto the scoresheet.
Things don't look good for Toronto, heading back to Boston down 3-1. It will be a tall order to win three straight games to clinch the series.
But at the end of the day, all they can do is take it one game at a time. Perhaps getting Nazem Kadri back in Game 5 will give them a spark...
Do you think Toronto has a chance to come back in the series? Let us know in the comment section below.