Lucas Viveiros | The Avro Post
The Air Canada Centre crowd has turned this playoff series into an intriguing one after the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Boston Bruins 4-2 on Monday.
In many hockey fans eyes this series appeared to be a lopsided one, and one that would end in a four game sweep.
After two dominant home victories by the Boston Bruins in games 1 & 2 (outscoring the Leafs 12-4 combined), Toronto came out hungry and ready to fight for their season.
This was the first game of the series where the Maple Leafs had sustained pressure in the Bruins zone, and were able to get the Boston defense looking uncomfortable at times.
But the game’s opening goal did come with some controversy, following a call against the Bruins.
With just over three minutes to play in the opening period, Bruins forward Riley Nash was called for a delay of game penalty despite flipping the puck against the glass before it went out into the crowd.
Just a mere seven seconds later, the Maple Leafs got the ice breaker on the man advantage courtesy a goal from James Van Riemsdyk.
That’s playoff hockey though, some calls go for a team, and some go against, and it’s about which team can persevere through the ebbs and flows of a game and a series.
Boston was able to fight back twice from being down by a goal, getting goals from McQuaid and Chara, but ultimately the Maple Leafs counter attack and speed were too lethal in the game.
The ACC crowd was electric from start to finish, but really got going once Auston Matthews was able to put the Leafs ahead 3-2 with a bullet, beating goaltender Tuuka Rask upstairs late in the second period.
Chants of “AUSTON MATTHEWS” and “TUUUUUUKAAAA” echoed throughout the ACC, and gave the Bruins a taste of their own medicine.
Veteran forward Patrick Marleau also added a couple in the game.
Marleau was brought into the fold in the off-season to provide leadership and playoff experience to the young Buds, and it certainly paid off in this game.
The smooth skater buried a pair of two on ones, one coming off a beauty of a feed from Mitch Marner, and the other being the dagger that provided the Maple Leafs with a two goal cushion with 3:35 to play in regulation.
When the game was all said and done, Toronto was able to overcome the loss of key forwards Nazem Kadri (suspension) and Leo Komarov (injury) due to other players stepping up.
Forward Tomas Plekanec played a key role in shutting down the best trio in hockey (Bergeron, Pastrnak and Marchand) as he played hands down his best game as a Maple Leaf.
Dominic Moore fit in nicely on the fourth line between speeding wingers Kapanen and Johnsson.
Toronto also got the goaltending they needed from Fredrik Andersen, as if the Leafs plan on fending off the Bruins three more times this series, they’re certainly going to need him at his absolute best.
Next up is Game 4 from Toronto on Thursday night, as the Leafs go for the split before Game 5.
Puck drop is set for 7:00pm from the Air Canada Centre and can be seen on CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.
More coverage to follow. Image from SB Nation.