Final, 2-1 Maple Leafs: With the goalie pulled, the Bruins control the puck for the entirety of the final minute-plus, but they can’t get anything past Reimer. It wasn’t for lack of effort, but this series goes back to Toronto. See you Sunday night.
Third period, 1:11, 2-1 Maple Leafs: Claude Julien has called timeout with a faceoff in the Toronto zone coming.
Third period, 1:46, 2-1 Maple Leafs: Bruins don’t score on the power play.
Third period, 3:48, 2-1 Maple Leafs: When 6-foot-9 Zdeno Chara is bearing down on you, you tend to make mistakes. Tyler Bozak sure did, launching a puck over the glass in his defensive end. He’ll go to the penalty box for that, and the fired-up Bruins crowd is even louder with the Bruins heading to the power play.
Third period, 8:48, 2-1 Maple Leafs: The Boston Bruins have life.
The Krejci line just put forth their most intense effort of the night, controlling the puck in the offensive zone for more than a full minute. At long last, David Krejci fit a perfect pass to Zdeno Chara in the high slot, and the captain beat Reimer high to the blocker side to cut the lead in half.
Third period, 12:04, 2-0 Maple Leafs: Another missed opportunity on a rebound, this time from Chris Kelly, who couldn’t get much behind a backhand off a Rich Peverley rebound. Reimer’s giving them the opportunities, they’re just not cashing in.
Third period, 13:30, 2-0 Maple Leafs: Yet again, it was the third line creating a good series of scoring chances on an extended shift in the offensive zone. That line has been the best tonight, though of course, without any goals to show for it.
It’s time for the Bruins to get desperate. The Leafs have been desperate all night, with their season on the line, and the Bruins haven’t been able to manufacture that inspiration. Now, they have a very real 2-0 deficit staring them in the face, and every minute that passes without a goal makes it less and less likely they come back tonight.
Third period, 18:02, 2-0 Maple Leafs: Johnny Boychuk’s breakout pass to Nathan Horton was a little off target, and Clarke MacArthur picked it up with speed in the neutral zone, carved his way around Boychuk and deked around Rask to score the Leafs’ second goal of the night.
It doesn’t take an expert to know that was a big one (though I’m sure all the experts are saying it, just in case).
Third period, 19:00, 1-0 Maple Leafs: The Bruins and Leafs exchange missed opportunities at banging home rebounds into open nets in the first minute of this period.
Third period, 20:00, 1-0 Maple Leafs: The Bruins have 20 minutes to end this thing. Otherwise, it’s going back to Toronto. The Bergeron line is back out there yet again to start the period.
End of second period, 1-0 Maple Leafs: Toronto has tried its darndest to get Zdeno Chara into the penalty box all series long, and they just figured out a way to do it: Have three guys go at him from behind after a whistle.
Chara initially withstood the attempted pigpile, but he ended up lying on top of Ryan O’Byrne for a bit as the two exchanged some choice words. The refs sent both players off for two minutes for roughing, so the final 1:13 of the period was played 4-on-4, and the first 47 seconds of the third will continue that way.
The refs have, for the most part, let these two teams play, but that included allowing Nikolai Kulemin to truck McQuaid after a whistle. McQuaid was peeved and initially went after Kulemin, who had skated away a pretty good distance (wouldn’t you?) and then argued his case to referee Dan O’Halloran, who was hearing none of it.
This game certainly has plenty of nasty, but the Bruins are going to actually have to put one in the back of the net for it to become a game again.
Second period, 2:25, 1-0 Maple Leafs: There may be no player in the NHL better at controlling the puck than Jaromir Jagr. That hasn’t really led to much in terms of goals, but he’s come close a couple of times tonight. Most recently, he fought through a couple of John-Michael Liles cross-checks and blows to the back of the head and walked right in front, but Reimer gloved his shot.
Second period, 8:33, 1-0 Maple Leafs: Well, that momentum thing I mentioned? Never mind that.
Tyler Bozak just outraced Andrew Ference through the neutral zone and was all alone on Rask. He made the initial stop but then seemed to knock the puck in himself. It’s 1-0 Toronto.
Second period, 9:57, 0-0: You get the sense that momentum is beginning to turn. The line of Jagr-Kelly-Peverley just had an outstanding shift, controlling the puck in the offensive end for nearly a full minute. That was followed up by Bergeron skating between Paille and Thornton, and Bergeron getting a wide open net opportunity. Reimer was able to make a sprawling stop.
After that chance, James van Riemsdyk just had to beat McQuaid in a foot race, but McQuaid caught up to him and poked the puck away. JVR then knocked McQuaid over a downed Leafs player, and he goes to the box for interference, giving the Bruins their first power play of the night.
Second period, 13:59, 0-0: Every time Phil Kessel has the puck on his stick near the offensive blue line, you know exactly what he’s going to do. He’s going to skate to the top of the circle, peel back and fire a bullet of a snap shot toward net. It’s just a matter of whether the goalie can stop it or not. This time, Rask was, just as he’s been able to for some time now. He’s in one of those zones where it seems like he’s just not going to let anything past him. He’s up to 25 saves now.
Still, the Leafs’ advantage in that department continues, with a 6-3 lead in shots this period. It’s been the story of the night so far, but because of Rask, it’s just a shot advantage and not an advantage where it counts.
Second period, 17:41, 0-0: The Bruins just got their first good opportunity in quite some time, as Seguin dropped a pass back to Bergeron between the circles, with Chara skating in front for the screen or redirect. Reimer not only made the save, but he also held on, which has been quite the struggle for him this series. He picked a good time to squeeze one tight there.
Second period, 20:00, 0-0: Let’s see how the second 20 shakes out. We’re under way in the second period.
End of first period, 0-0: The first comes to an end without any score, thanks to Tuukka Rask and his 19 saves. He’s been relied on too much already, but it’s more indicative of the Leafs playing a desperate game than it is the Bruins playing badly. The Bruins have made a couple of miscues in the defensive end trying to break out of their zone, but it hasn’t been as terrible as a 19-8 shot disadvantage might suggest.
The only Bruins who would earn positive grades in my imaginary grading book that period were Rask and Krejci. Lucic gets a half of a plus-mark, and the rest of the team is at neutral. It’s no doubt tough to match the desperation of a team facing elimination, but the Bruins need to use this intermission to try to find a way to regroup and refocus their effort in the second. A strong second could be the difference between five days of rest or a trip to Toronto tomorrow for a game on Sunday.
What’s incredible about the shot differential is that the Bruins have won 12 of 15 shots, yet it’s the Leafs who are doubling up the Bruins in shots. Each team has 18 hits after the first 20 minutes, and in the least surprising news of the first 20, Johnny Boychuk has a game-high three blocked shots.
First period, 1:31, 0-0: Mikhail Grabovski just attempted what would have been one of the more amazing goals in playoff history. From behind the net, he flipped the puck over Rask, skated around the net and redirected the puck on net with a mid-air backhand. It didn’t work. Rask made the save, and Grabovski played it with his stick above the corssbar anyway, so it wouldn’t have counted anyway. But man, that would have been something else.
First period, 5:25, 0-0: The shots keep piling up for the Leafs, to the tune of a 16-7 advantage thus far. Boston hasn’t had much possession in the offensive zone in a long while, and the Leafs are really bringing it. The B’s are surviving, but that’s not enough to get it done tonight.
First period, 8:42, 0-0: It’s still scoreless, thanks to Tuukka Rask and his 13 saves already. The Bruins are going to want to start limiting those chances, because Rask is already standing on his head. Forcing your goalie to make more than a save per minute isn’t exactly a recipe for success.
In more positive Bruins news, Milan Lucic laid a huge hit on Gunarsson in the corner and created a scoring opportunity, but that went for naught. Krejci later laid out Gunarsson in front of the Boston bench, so it was a shift Carl would likely rather forget.
First period, 12:44, 0-0: Tuukka Rask just made his finest glove save of the series, stopping a slapper from Clarke MacArthur that was headed for the top shelf. MacArthur was left to do nothing but skate bent over with his head down for a few seconds. I think he thought he had one there.
Matt Bartkowski has looked fine so far, but his one-time slap shot from the blue line looked great. It was a real hard, low shot. Against a goalie like Reimer, who gives up 15-foot rebounds on almost every shot, that type of bid from the blue line could be very useful tonight.
First period, 14:42, 0-0: The B’s are able to kill the penalty, thanks in part to Johnny Boychuk blocking a slap shot with his foot. That guy would jump in front of a bus if it meant preventing a goal.
First period, 18:14, 0-0: A strong start for Boston results in a … Toronto power play. Chris Kelly, tripping.
First period, 20:00: Claude is starting things with Marchand-Bergeron-Seguin up front and the CHARDENBERG on the blue line. Randy Carlyle starts things with van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Kessel up front and Phaneuf and Gunarsson on the blue line. This one is under way.
7 p.m.: Carlos Arredondo, better known as “the hero in the cowboy hat” from the Boston Marathon bombings, was tonight’s honorary banner captain, and he just waved the Boston Strong flag, while the giant Bruins flag began making its way around the lower bowl. We’re less than 10 minutes from puck drop in Game 5.
6:38 p.m.: Matt Bartkowski skated with Adam McQuaid in line rushes, while Dougie Hamilton just watched from near the Boston bench, so it looks like Bartkowski will be making his playoff debut tonight. He had five assists in five postseason games for the Providence Bruins this season before getting called up yesterday.
6:30 p.m.: It’s a big night in Boston, as the Bruins stand just 60 minutes away from advancing to the second round of the postseason.
Of course, it hasn’t been easy to earn of their previous three wins, and it won’t be easy to earn this one. The Maple Leafs have admirably battled all series long, most recently in an overtime Game 4 that really could have gone either way.
The key tonight will be the first period. If the Bruins can impose their will and build an early lead, they might finally get the Leafs to give in a little bit. The Maple Leafs are a team without much postseason experience, and they might not have a reason to believe in themselves. An early deficit and the prospects of hitting the links on Sunday may affect them.
Yet, if the Leafs can pop an early one, I fully expect another tight hockey game, and the Leafs will be thinking about Game 6 on Sunday instead of tee times.
The B’s and Leafs are on the ice for warmups now. I’ll give you an idea of whether Dougie Hamilton or Matt Bartkowski will be in on the blue line for Boston after line rushes.