They say a two-goal lead is the most dangerous lead in hockey.
The Toronto Maple Leafs may beg to differ. The worst lead to have in an elimination game against the Boston Bruins might be 4-1. Goals by Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari cut the lead in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal to 4-3, but despite dominating the third period there would be no repeat of the late-game heroics of that Game 7 contest back in 2013. The B’s will need to wait until Monday night at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto to try and close out the series after falling 4-3 to the Leafs on Saturday night at TD Garden.
Despite outshooting Toronto 15-6 in the first period, the Black and Gold entered the locker room down 0-2. Both teams seemed cautious in the opening minutes of the game, but the Maple Leafs were able to quiet the crowd early.
An Auston Matthews wrap-around attempt was partially blocked by Torey Krug and then knocked over Tuukka Rask’s left pad by an opportunistic Connor Brown to give Toronto a 1-0 lead at 6:36 of the first.
The Maple Leafs struck again just 3:36 later when Nazem Kadri fed a pass through the Bruins defense to a waiting Andreas Johnsson, who lifted a backhand past Rask. Kadri was returning from a three-game suspension for a hit to Tommy Wingels in Game 1 of the series.
Boston had multiple chances on its first power play, ringing the post, then not being able to capitalize after a scramble in front of Frederic Andersen. But, the Toronto keeper made several key stops, looking more like the 40-save, Game 3 Andersen. Andersen finished with 42 saves Saturday.
David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand couldn’t capitalize on two odd-man rushes midway through the second stanza, but Pastrnak was tripped on the second which led to Boston’s second power play opportunity of the night.
It only took 17 seconds before David Backes beat Andersen with a quick backhand on a bounce off the boards of a wide Torey Krug shot to cut the Toronto lead to 2-1.
The momentum shift was short lived as Tyler Bozack made it 3-1 Toronto at 10:36. After a tripping penalty to Matt Grzelcyk former University of New Hampshire standout James van Riemsdyk ended Rask’s night roofing a wrist shot in close over the netminder’s right shoulder to make it 4-1 Leafs 1:19 later. Anton Khudobin entered in relief and finished with eight saves.