Last night’s game was do or die for the Maple Leafs, and for Frederik Andersen and the Leafs, they chose the latter beating the Bruins 4-2 and forcing Game 6. Now all that is needed is two more wins, and Toronto fans will be pleased.
Andersen was a key component to the win last night racking up a staging 42 saves. He survived a vicious third period as the Bruins challenged hard and while pausing to take a drink, an exhausted Andersen said,
Talking about the game, Andersen said,
“We want to battle for each other. We want to play for each other in this locker room.”
Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak each scored a goal and earned assists, as did Andreas Johnsson and Connor Brown. The Leafs are trailing Boston 3-2 in the series and will again face a do or die situation on Monday as Game 6 gets underway. One thing is certain, and that is the Bruins will be steely focused, and unless Toronto is on their game, the Bruins will prevail.
Andersen, who Don Cherry considers the best goalie in the NHL at the moment has a save percentage of .880 in the series and is one of the major factors that the Leafs are still here.
Frederik Andersen added,
“You’ve got to respond right away. That’s hockey for you. A lot of stuff can go wrong and you can feel like you’re not getting any bounces your way, but you’ve just got to battle through it.”
Boston’s Sean Kuraly, David Brackles and Noel Acciari each scored. Bergeron, who was off due to an upper-body injury, returned to the lineup but that didn’t help Boston get the job done. Rask wasn’t happy with his performance last night after letting in four goals before being pulled. Commenting, he said,
“Probably could’ve stopped more pucks with my eyes closed,” Rask said. “It’s on me, but (I’m) moving on to the next one and we’ll finish it out in Toronto.”
Boston dropped the ball during power plays managing to only capitalize on one of six and that included one that saw the Bruins with a two man advantage.
The last time the two teams faced off in the playoffs Toronto was also behind 3 games to one before coming back to tie the series only to give up a Game 7 lead to Boston who won 5-4 in overtime.
While talking about the last time the Leafs faced off against the Bruins in the playoffs, Kadri mentioned,
“That’s in the past,” said Nazem Kadri, one of five Leafs from that dreadful night still on the roster. “Maybe it’s time we turned the page on that one.”
Boston was down two goals going into the third period but managed to close the gap to one after Noel Acciari managed to put the puck past Frederik Andersen, and almost tied the game minutes later when a shot from Charlie McAvoy bounced off the post.
The Bruins did not give up pushing hard for the entire third period hoping to force the game into overtime or take the win. However, the Leafs managed to hold off the charging Bruins, with much of that effort being contributed to Andersen.
Speaking about Andersen, Auton Matthews said,
“He played unbelievable, this was do or die for us.”
Mike Babcock chose to make changes to the lineup last night putting Connor Brown with Zack Hyman and Auston Matthews and then putting Kadri in with Nylander and Johnsson. Mitch Marnier was joined together with Tomas Plekanec, while the fourth line was comprised of Kasperi Kapanen, Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk.
The changes paid off right from the start with Connor Brown scoring less than 7 minutes into the first period after hitting a puck in the air and sending it into the net. That goal set the stage an was the first time Toronto has led a game in the series. Toronto made it 2-0 less than four minutes later when Kadri sent a pass to Johnsson who beat Rask. It was his first playoff goal in his rookie year.
The Bruins didn’t score until halfway through the second period, but Toronto’s David Brackles responded less than a minute later to make it 3-1 for the Leafs.
Game 6 will visit the A.C.C on Monday for what is sure to be a heated and intense meeting. Fans will be out in force as hopes for an extended season are insight after the Leafs had one of their best seasons in recent memory.