By Stan Smith

The Toronto Maple Leafs came through with a gutsy come-from-behind 3-2 win in Boston to even up their first-round series with the Bruins at one game apiece. They now return to Toronto with the home-ice advantage. 

For the majority of two periods, this team seemed destined to lose once again. They kept shooting themselves in the foot by taking bad penalties and giving up goals at crucial times in the game.

Related: Goaltending the Difference In Maple Leafs Losing Game 1

The Bruins Opened the Scoring – Again

The Bruins opened the scoring as they have done in all six of their previous meetings this season. They did so on the power play after Jake McCabe took a horrendous and needless penalty when he crosschecked Jakub Lauko behind the Toronto net after the whistle.  From Lauko’s reaction on and after the play, I’m sure that he may have embellished it just a wee bit, but McCabe can’t put himself in that position. (Note: If anyone watches the replay of that play, after Lauko goes down he gets up and looks at the referee with a huge grin.)

On the penalty kill, David Kampf had the puck at his feet with time. But, instead of clearing it himself, he appeared to think that Timothy Liljegren might get his stick on it. Kampf was wrong. Jake DeBrusk got to the loose puck first and knocked it back to the point to Charlie McAvoy. The Bruins were able to move it around, eventually setting up Morgan Geekie for a one-timer that beat Ilya Samsonov on the short side. 

The Bruins’ Lead Was Short-Lived

The lead was short-lived, however, as Toronto took advantage of a lucky bounce. After the faceoff at center following the Bruins’ goal, Tyler Bertuzzi dumped the puck into the Boston zone. A clearing attempt by Hampus Lindholm caromed off a stanchion right out front of the Boston net. Bertuzzi managed to bother Brandon Carlo enough causing Carlo to push the puck to Auston Matthews. 

Tyler Bertuzzi, Maple Leafs

Matthews rang a shot off the post behind goalie Linus Ullmark. Domi was there for the rebound, but Ullmark also stopped Domi’s first shot with his right pad. The puck returned to Domi, who got it behind Ullmark and into the net this time. It took exactly 14 seconds for Toronto to even the game at 1-1.

Just when it seemed the period would end in a tie, with 14 seconds left, Geekie beat John Tavares in a faceoff in the Toronto end, and David Pastrnak shoveled the puck back to McAvoy at the point. McAvoy passed the puck to Pavel Zacha along the boards to the right of Samsonov. Zacha placed a perfect backhand blind pass out front to Pastrnak who was cocked and loaded. Partrnak blasted what looked like a 90+ MPH slapshot past Samsonov with just 7.8 seconds on the clock. 

Related: Ex-Maple Leafs Wendel Clark Weighs in on Maple Leafs Chances

The Score Remained Tied Until Late in the Second Period

The score remained 2-1 Boston until late in the second period. At 16:52, the Maple Leafs got a favorable call from the referees when Matt Grzelcyk pushed Tavares down from behind in front of the Boston goal. Plays like that were happening often at both ends of the ice with no calls, but one of the referees decided to call this one interference on Grzelcyk. 

After Bertuzzi’s goal was called back because of a high stick (which it was), the Maple Leafs finally came through with a powerplay goal with 1:34 left in the third period. During the play, Matthews backhanded a pass out front to Tavares, who had his back to the net. Tavares spun and fired a wrist shot into the top corner of the net above Ullmark’s blocker to tie the game at 2-2. 

Stellar goaltending by both goaltenders kept the game tied until the 12:06 mark of the third period when Domi found Matthews at the Boston blue line with an alley-oop flip pass up the middle. Matthews managed to stay onside, glove the puck out of midair down onto his stick, and get in behind the Bruins’ defense. He made no mistake, stickhandling the puck around Ullmark and depositing it into the net behind him.  

In the End, the Maple Leafs Barred the Door

For the game’s last eight minutes, the Maple Leafs would play “Kitty Bar the Door.” They held on for the win.  

They also got a second favorable call from the referee shortly after taking the lead. Ilya Lyubushkin and Coyle got into a shoving match after a whistle at the Toronto end. Lyubushkin ended up getting his glove up into Coyle’s face. That caused the referee to raise his arm, appearing to call just Lyubushkin for a penalty. With the players mulling about, Bertuzzi decided it was a good time to give Machand a chop in the leg with his stick. Of course, Marchand dropped to the ice like a stone.

In the end, the referee called Lyubushkin and Coyle for roughing and Bertuzzi for slashing. The referee could have easily called the two Maple Leafs’ players, giving Boston a 5-on-3 power play. Coyle didn’t do much other than hold onto Lyubushkin.  

The Maple Leafs killed Boston’s 5-on-4 power play. 

Notable Players For Maple Leafs

Auston Matthews carried the team in this game. He was involved in all three Toronto goals, scoring the winner and assisting on the other two. He was plus two in plus/minus, had eight shots on the net, was credited with six hits, and won 69.6% of the faceoffs he took. 

Ilya Samsonov, Maple Leafs starting goalie

I wrote before and after Game 1 that Samsonov had to be at least as good as the Boston goalies for the Maple Leafs to have a chance in this series. He failed to do that in Game 1. In this game, he was, at the very least, equal to Ullmark. Samsonov made some phenomenal saves. If not for him the result could have been completely different. 

Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi were acquired specifically for their playoff performance, and both players did not disappoint in this game. Domi scored the first goal and set up Matthews for the winning goal with a great pass. Bertuzzi was a force to be reckoned with and without the puck all night. He was placed on the number one power-play unit and assisted with the Tavares power-play goal. 

Other Game Notes

After losing the specialty teams in Game 1, despite each team scoring once on the power play, the Maple Leafs won the specialty team battle in this game. Toronto scored on a late power play in the second period to tie the game and then killed off a Bruins power play in the latter half of the third period with the game on the line. 

If the first two games are any indication, the Maple Leafs might be the better team at 5-on-5. According to, Toronto had a wide advantage in Shot Attempts (102-73), Scoring Chances (59-27), and High-Danger Scoring Chances (25-13) in the two games in Boston. 

After going hitless in Game 1, Joel Edmundson led all Toronto defensemen with five hits. Matthews and Ryan Reaves led the forwards with six. Overall, the Maple Leafs have almost matched the Bruins hit for hit. Boston has 95 hits over the two games to Toronto’s 93. 

The fourth line of David Kampf, Connor Dewar, and Ryan Reaves played so well together that they had more time on the ice than the third line. At 5-on-5, Kampf played 12:54, Dewar 10:45, and Reaves 10:31. Calle Jarnkrok played 10:22, Pontus Holmberg 8:52, and Nick Robertson just 7:21.

What’s Next?

The two teams head back to Toronto for games two and three. Game 2 is at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday. They then have two days between games before taking to the ice at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday. 

William Nylander did skate earlier in the day on Monday. Hopefully, he will be available to go on Wednesday. If he doesn’t, I have to think that with the extra day between games three and four, he should be ready for Saturday’s game.

Bobby McMann is still not skating. I would be surprised if we saw him in either game. Based on the ice time allotment for Game 2, I have to think that Robertson would be the odd man out if Nylander does return. 

Related: Elliotte Friedman Weighs in on Maple Leafs Game 1 Loss

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