BOSTON, MA – Buckle up, folks. We may be in for a long series.
Following Boston’s 4-1 dismantling of the Maple Leafs in Game 1 on Wednesday, it looked as if there was a chance for this series to be fairly one-sided. However, on Saturday evening, the Leafs responded with a tremendous effort in all facets of the game, earning a 4-2 victory over the Bruins.
“They were better, there’s no doubt there, and they played a much better game than they did in Game 1 and we didn’t play quite as well as we did in the first game. Certainly, they made some adjustments; we were prepared for those kinds of adjustments, but I think our execution wasn’t as good tonight. The breakdowns that we had defensively were poor breakdowns on our part and we gave them a lot of outnumbered situations. We have to be better defensively, in order to be better offensively.” – Claude Julien
After a scoreless opening frame, it was the Bruins who would get on the board first, less than two minutes into the second period. Top-line winger Nathan Horton would get credit for his second goal in as many playoff games after driving to the front of the net and pushing home a rebound, putting Boston ahead, 1-0.
Less than four minutes later, the Bruins would see their lead evaporate on Toronto winger Joffrey Lupul’s first goal of the postseason. The 29-year-old former Anaheim Duck was able to capitalize on a juicy rebound in front and fire it past Bruins’ netminder Tuukka Rask to even the score at one; all while Boston captain (and No. 1 penalty-killer) Zdeno Chara was sitting in the box after a questionable tripping call.
Midway through the frame, the Leafs would take their first lead of the game after Matt Frattin used a beautiful series of moves to beat the Bruins’ defense and set up Lupul for his second tally of the evening.
“Good play by (Matt) Frattin, he had his legs going all game, shooting the puck taking it hard to the net. It’s a big game for him to step in after not playing for some time, and give us a spark.” – Joffrey Lupul
Just 53 seconds into the third and final period, “the streak” would come to an end. For the first time in 23 games against his former team, Phil Kessel would score an even-strength goal. The former Boston winger would catch both Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk napping in the neutral zone before busting in on a breakaway and beating Rask with a quick wrist-shot.
“Obviously, playing against a former team before, I can only imagine what it is like for him playing against them in the playoffs. We are happy for him to be able to contribute like that. He is definitely a key player on our team. He has been playing strong and we will continue to need him to do that kind of stuff as the series goes on.” – James van Riemsdyk
Midway through the third and final period, Boston would answer back with a goal of their own as Johnny Boychuk’s slapshot blast would make it through some traffic in front (created by Tyler Seguin) and deflect off Reimer and into the net, making the score 3-2 in favor of the Leafs.
“That’s playoff hockey. That’s the goals you definitely take pride in and I think we also need to do a better job of getting in front of their goalie. He played a great game tonight and I think if we can get more traffic, we’ll get more goals going in.” – Tyler Seguin
With the B’s offense buzzing and the home team now back within a goal, it appeared as if a comeback was on the way. However, with less than four minutes to play in regulation, UNH product James van Riemsdyk snuck behind the Boston defense and beat Rask with a set of nifty moves with the puck, extending the Toronto lead to what would eventually become the final score, 4-2.
Time to prepare for a hostile environment …
For the first time since 2004, there will be a playoff game played in the largest hockey market on planet earth. It’s fairly safe to assume the fans up in Toronto will be more than ready to go for Monday’s Game 3, and the Bruins better have themselves prepared to enter what will be an extraordinarily hostile environment.
“I mean, if you’re Toronto right now and you haven’t been in the playoffs for that long your fans have got to be excited over there. And we know it’s going to be noisy and there’s going to be a lot of electricity in the air. And we have to face that. We’re the bad team coming in and what you’ve got to do is focus on your job and hopefully not let that kind of stuff throw you off your game.” – Claude Julien
Ben’s Three Stars of the Night:
2) James Reimer (39 Saves)
3) Phil Kessel (1 Goal/4 Shots/Plus-1 Rating)
Series: Series Tied, 1-1.
Looking Ahead: Game 3 of this series is on Monday evening at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 PM.
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About the Author: Boston Bruins writer for Hockey Independent. Contributor to the New England Hockey Journal. Have written for The Hockey Guys and SB Nation Boston. Follow me on Twitter @_BWoodward or shoot me an email at BWoodward.HI@gmail.com.