Following the Boston Bruins Game 3 loss, they now only hold a 2-1 series lead. Air Canada Centre was electric from the time the players took the ice until the final whistle. In front of their home crowd, the Toronto Maple Leafs proved to be too much for the Bruins that game as they stole it by a score of 4-2.
Lead up to the Playoffs
With five games remaining, the Bruins were flat. All they needed were two wins in their final five games in order to clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference. But with one win and four disappointing losses, the Bruins settled into second.
Awaiting them was Toronto, who knew they would be the three seed in the division for quite some time. After Boston posted a 1-3 record against the Leafs in the regular season, Toronto was expected to have the upper hand despite being the lower seed.
Games 1 and 2
After Game 1, it was clear that Boston had recovered in their three full days of rest in between the regular season and postseason. With their fans surrounding them, the Bruins took a 3-1 lead into the third and eventually closed the game with a 5-1 victory for a strong jump on the series.
Game 2 was supposed to be Toronto’s comeback. They were expected to regroup and find answers to Boston’s offensive juggernaut. But the Bruins, notably dominant in their home building in the playoffs, pummeled the Leafs again – this time by a score of 7-3.
Keys to the Series
The key to the series for the Bruins has been shutting down Auston Matthews. In the first two games, Boston held him to zero points and an overall plus/minus of -2. The ever-dangerous scorer was also held to just nine shots.
Matthews showed up for the first time this series in the third game, scoring Toronto’s third goal and eventual game-winner. The advantage of the last change paid off for coach Mike Babcock as he could pull Matthews if the Bergeron line was out.
Zach Hyman has been the unexpected hero for the Leafs. Hyman has recorded a point in all the three games and is caught in the middle of being a big body and a small, but speedy skater – something that plays perfectly for Toronto. Flying under the radar, Boston has not had an answer for him yet. They don’t put one of their faster skaters on him and don’t pair him up with a big skater of their own. Being caught in the middle has worked perfectly for Hyman so far.
Coming into the series, Toronto knew they had to shut down the top line of David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, and Patrice Bergeron. For the first two games, the Leafs were not able to do so, as players on that line scored or assisted on 10 of the team’s 12 goals.
In Game 3, Toronto kept the three off the score sheet and forced the Bruins to look elsewhere for goals. They got two from their defensemen, but it was not enough and Toronto was victorious. The Bruins can’t rely on their defence to score goals, as they already have their hands full with the highly-skilled offence the Leafs throw at them.
What’s Next for Boston
With another game to play in Toronto on Thursday, the Bruins can bounce back and get a stranglehold on the series with a win. Boston will have to find an answer to the surging offence and netminder Frederik Andersen, who has come back from his dismal play in Boston.
The Bruins and Leafs have two days off to regroup and recover. In that time, Boston will have to evaluate their assets. Ryan Donato sat for Game 3 because of the return of Riley Nash and because he showed a lack of defensive-minded play in Game 2. Matt Grzelcyk missed Game 3 with a lower-body injury and was replaced by Nick Holden. With the right pieces back in place, the Bruins will be able to contain Toronto in Game 4.
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