The Toronto Maple Leafs after digging themselves a 3-1 hole have come up two key victories to even the series at 3-3, and setting up a dramatic Game 7 in Boston on Wednesday night.
There was a moment of silence observed before the opening faceoff at Air Canada Centre to honor the 10 people killed Monday when a van rode up on a sidewalk in Toronto’s north end and struck multiple pedestrians. Fifteen others were injured.
Boston struck first
After a scoreless first period with end-to-end action the Boston Bruins tallied the game's first goal with the intention of taking this game and not being forced into a Game 7 senario.
The visiting Bruins nabbed a 1-0 lead at 1:02 of the second period as David Krejci won a faceoff after an icing against Auston Matthews and got it to Jake DeBrusk, who ripped a shot between Andersen’s arm and body and into the net.
Boston led 1-0.
But not for long. The Leafs tied it just 35 seconds later when Toronto's William Nylander buried a rebound off a Jake Gardiner shot from the point for his first goal of the playoffs.
Toronto took the lead
At 13:25 of the middle stanza the Maple Leafs did what they had to do... they took the lead.
This time another young player by the name Mitch Marner put it home to give the Toronto squad a lead they would not relinquish. Marner was the first one to a loose puck in the slot and sent a spin-around backhander by Tuukka Rask with Brad Marchand unable to clear the puck.
“We knew we had to steal some games in Boston. Now we have to steal two,” Marner said.
This turned out to be the winning goal, and it's a worth a look.
The hopeful Toronto crowd went berserk in joy chanting "Go Leafs go."
And the last goal was an empty netter as the Bruins pulled Rask in hopes of tying the game. That strategy backfired as the Leafs' Tomas Plekanec got the empty net goal to pretty much dissolve any thought Boston may have had of winning this key game.
Good goaltending wins games
It's preached constantly that if you have a goalie with a hot hand, you have a good shot in the playoffs. In this game, Frederik Andersen made 32 saves, but key was that he stopped all 17 shots in the first period and did a fine job protecting the lead for his team once they obtained it for him.
Game 7 drama
Even with this victory under their belt the resilient Maple Leafs have the odds stacked against them in taking a decisive Game 7.
Starting with these playoffs, teams that take a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series hold an all-time record of 270-28 — good for a success rate of 90.6 per cent.
That doesn't mean the Maple Leafs are going to lose, it just means the odds are stacked against them.
All the statistics, odds and drama will unfold in Boston on Wednesday night and the victor will play the Tampa Bay Lightning who dispatched the New Jersey Devils in five games. They are relaxing, waiting to see who they will play next to decide the final two teams in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Do you think that the Toronto Maple Leafs will defy the odds and come back to take Game 7? Or is it the Boston Bruins who will move to the next round? Give us your take below in the comments section.