David Pastrnak and the rest of the power play unit may have nightmares about what transpired for the Boston Bruins tonight on their lone man advantage.
In a very loosely officiated game at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, the Bruins received just one power play in a 4-2 loss to the Maple Leafs that allowed Toronto to climb back into the best-of-seven first round series, now down just 2-1.
Chances were aplenty for the B’s on the power play, which came early in the third period and with Toronto ahead, 3-2. The Bruins hit two posts and suffered two more cases of highway robbery by Leafs goalie Frederick Andersen, who redeemed himself after a dismal showing back in Boston through the first two games of the series. He made 40 saves in all for Toronto in the Game 3 win.
Andersen was pulled from Game 2 in the first period after allowing three goals on the first four shots he faced. He looked shaky at times in the first period tonight as well, having difficulty corralling a blast from Zdeno Chara, a wrister from David Backes and another bomb off the stick of Charlie McAvoy.
But despite the unorthodox approach, he kept the game scoreless long enough to give Toronto the game’s first power play thanks to a puck which may or may not have hit off the side glass that wound up in the stands, resulting in a delay of game call against Riley Nash at 16:58 of the first period. Just 7 seconds into the power play, James van Reimsdyk stuffed a puck past Tuukka Rask for a 1-0 lead that held after the first 20 minutes.
After combining for 14 points in Game 2, the Pastrnak-Patrice Bergeron-Brad Marchand line ran dry tonight – some of which was due to Toronto head coach Mike Babcock matching the line against the Patrick Marleau-Tomas Plekanec-Mitch Marner line. Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy told NESN broadcasters Jack Edwards and Andy Brickley after the game that despite the lack of scoring, the line still generated a lot of offense.
“If you look at the scoresheet, clearly, they did a good job against Bergeron’s line,” Cassidy said on the telecast. “Yet I think for the third straight game, we generated enough offense to win. Tonight, it didn’t go in. We had chance after chance, especially in the second and third period.”
Boston’s fourth line was instrumental in each of its second period goals, each goal enough to tie the game at 1-1 and later 2-2.
Defenseman Adam McQuaid cleared the puck out of his own end and dumped it into the attacking zone, letting Tim Schaller, Sean Kuraly and Noel Acciari get to work. Kuraly and Schaller each won battles in the right-wing corner boards, with Schaller ultimately freeing the puck back to the right point, where McQuaid was stationed.
McQuaid, who had just one goal in 38 regular season games this year, let a slap shot fly that slipped underneath Toronto goalie Frederick Andersen to tie the game at 1-apiece at 3:06 of the second.
Nary a minute passed before a horrendous 200-foot defensive sequence gave Toronto the lead right back.
Defenseman Morgan Reilly collected the puck in the shadow of his own goal and slid a pass up the right-wing wall for Mitch Marner, who galloped past Bruins blueliner Kevan Miller into the attacking zone. Marner found Marleau cutting across to the crease from the left, who buried the puck to put the Leafs ahead once again.
Once again, Boston’s fourth line wasn’t to be denied. Kuraly sent a puck that caromed off the skates of Auston Matthews across the ice to Zdeno Chara, who moved atop the left-wing circle. Chara, renowned for having the fastest slap shot in NHL history at one point of his career, fooled the Leafs by slipping through the defense and flipping a wrister by Andersen down low to even things up once again.
Auston Matthews finally arrived to the series to put the Leafs back on top for a third time, tucking a puck underneath the crossbar with Miller in coverage at 14:47 of the second for a goal that stood as the game-winner. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 draft had been held off the scoresheet during the first two games in Boston.
Marleau, a 20-year veteran who spent the first 19 years of his career with the San Jose Sharks, added the all-important insurance goal for Toronto in the third at 16:25 on a feed from Marner, the duo taking advantage of a two-on-one against Miller.
Tuukka Rask made 26 saves in a losing effort for the Bruins.
“I don’t think we had as much free space in front of their net as we did in the first two games,” Rask said of Boston’s night 200 feet in front of him.
Game 4 of the series is Thursday night in Toronto at 7 p.m.
Regardless of what happens then, there will be a Game 5 back in Boston on Saturday night.