Leafs beat Bruins 4-3 as series hits Game 6
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, April 21, 2018 11:12PM EDT
BOSTON — Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk each had a goal and an assist, Frederik Andersen made 42 saves, and the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Boston Bruins 4-3 on Saturday to force a sixth game in their first-round playoff series.
Connor Brown and Andreas Johnsson also scored for the Leafs, who still trail the Bruins 3-2 in their Eastern Conference quarter-final going into Monday’s Game 6 back in Toronto.
Noel Acciari, with a goal and an assist, David Backes and Sean Kuraly replied for the Bruins, who had No. 1 centre Patrice Bergeron back in the lineup after he was a surprise scratch with an upper-body injury in Game 4. Torey Krug added two assists.
Tuukka Rask allowed four goals on 13 shots before getting the hook in favour of Anton Khudobin, who finished with eight saves.
The Leafs trailed the Bruins 3-1 the last time the teams met in the playoffs back in 2013 before picking up consecutive 2-1 victories to tie the series 3-3. Toronto then led 4-1 in the third period of Game 7 at TD Garden only to have Boston storm back to grab a stunning 5-4 overtime victory.
Down 4-2 heading to the third, Boston pulled to within one at 5:56 when Acciari batted a loose puck past Andersen after a crazy hop behind the net inside an electric TD Garden after Charlie McAvoy hit the post a few minutes earlier.
Andersen robbed David Pastrnak moments later with a great pad stop to keep the Leafs ahead.
Boston continued to push over a tense final 10 minutes, but Toronto held on and will get an opportunity to stay alive once again on home ice.
Leafs head coach Mike Babcock juggled his lines with Toronto having scored just nine goals through four games, putting Brown alongside Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman, and slotting Nazem Kadri — back from suspension for a dirty hit on Bruins winger Tommy Wingels in the opener — between Johnsson and William Nylander.
Tomas Plekanec skated with Patrick Marleau and Mitch Marner, while van Riemsdyk, Bozak and Kasperi Kapanen made up the fourth trio.
The swaps paid immediate dividends in the first period.
Brown opened the scoring at 6:36, batting a loose puck out of the air at the side of the net after Rask could only partially block a wraparound attempt from Matthews off a pass from Hyman. The goal was just Brown’s second in 27 games, and marked the first time Toronto had led at TD Garden in the series.
The Leafs made it 2-0 at 10:12 on another nice rush. With boos raining down as he crossed the blue line, Kadri slithered a pass down low to Johnsson, who cut behind McAvoy before beating Rask for the rookie’s first playoff goal.
Boston got going late in the period and had a couple of good chances on the power play when Bozak went off for slashing, with Pastrnak hitting the post behind Andersen before the netminder made a nice save on Brad Marchand and held the fort on the ensuing scramble.
Toronto defenceman Travis Dermott almost caught Rask napping late in the period, but his shot off a harmless looking rush hit the post shortside and stayed out.
Boston cut the deficit in half at 9:45 of the second when Backes took advantage of a weird bounce off the glass behind Andersen.
But the Leafs got that one back 51 seconds later when Bozak finished off a pretty passing play with van Riemsdyk and Morgan Rielly to make it 3-1.
Toronto then went to the power play, with van Riemsdyk roofing a shot upstairs from in tight on Rask at 11:55 to chase the Boston goalie.
The Leafs survived a 5-on-3 Boston man advantage where Andersen made a number of big stops, but the Bruins got back to within two with 2:42 left in the period when Kuraly roofed a shot off a nice feed from Matt Grzelcyk.
Notes: Leafs winger Leo Komarov, who missed Games 3 and 4 with a lower-body injury, declared himself ready to play after the morning skate, but didn’t dress. … Game 7, if necessary, would be back in Boston on Wednesday.
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