The Toronto Maple Leafs needed a near-perfect game to extend the series on the road against the Boston Bruins. Instead, they jumped out to a lead and then held on for dear life.
Mission accomplished, however, as the Maple Leafs forced a Game 6 back on home ice after a 4-3 victory over the Bruins.
Boston’s fourth line came up with a couple of late tallies, but it was too little, too late, for the Bruins who were looking to wrap up the series on home-ice.
Using stretch and area passes, the Maple Leafs worked around the Bruins’ early forecheck and grabbed themselves an early 2-0 lead.
Jake Gardiner used the boards to pass the puck from his own zone all the way to the Bruins’ blue line, getting the puck to Zach Hyman, who later pushed the puck to Auston Matthews. Using his speed to get around the edge, Matthews attempted a wrap-around that bounced up in the air, with Connor Brown doing his best baseball impression to open up the scoring.
Kadri is back, and he was missed
For his actions in Game 1, Nazem Kadri has missed the last three games while being suspended. He made his presence known in his return.
After another great stretch pass from Gardiner, Kadri threw a beautiful pass right past a Bruins’ defender and onto the stick of Andreas Johnsson, after going from his forehand to his backhand, scored his first career playoff goal, and gave Toronto a 2-0 lead.
One of the biggest factors in the Maple Leafs digging themselves into a 3-1 series deficit was the penalty kill, which has now allowed five goals while down a man and is operating at 64% this postseason. That’s actually an improvement, as the Leafs held strong, despite allowing a David Backes power play marker, the Leafs only allowed one goal on five power-play opportunities.
Andersen puts doubts to rest
Despite killing each penalty late in the second period, a late goal by Sean Kuraly, which was set up by a great pass from Matt Grzelcyk, seemed to take most of the momentum into the third period. Boston outshot the Maple Leafs 20-5 in the third period, but Frederik Andersen stood strong to secure the win.
A major question mark throughout the series, Andersen stepped up and made 42 saves in the winning effort. Anton Khudobin stopped all seven shots he faced after coming in for Tuukka Rask.
Game 6 will be held on Monday, back in Toronto, with a 7 pm ET start time. Toronto needs a win to force winner-take-all Game 7 and whoever advances will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round. Tampa Bay advanced Saturday night after defeating the New Jersey Devils in five games.
Can the Maple Leafs stay alive and force a Game 7, or was Game 5 enough of a wake-up call for Boston, who will look to close out the series? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.