Do or die, the situation the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves in trailing 3-1 in the series with the Boston Bruins. Good news for the Leafs was the return of Nazem Kadri who had been suspended for three games for a check to the head. However the Bruins also had some good news as they had their number one center Patrice Bergeron return to the lineup following an injury sustained in game three. This game was a roller coaster from the offset and became a battle of attrition as Toronto jumped to a three goal lead, and Boston was gradually chipping away, but would they catch the Leafs in the end?
The Bruins had a lot of jump out of the gate sending a flurry of shots towards Leaf netminder Frederik Andersen, but he was able to turn aside all fifteen shots he faced in the first. Toronto’s offence on the other hand was much more successful on only six shots directed towards Tuukka Rask. First blood was drawn by Connor Brown of the Leafs who batted the puck out of mid-air after a failed wraparound attempt by Matthews. Then less than four minutes later the Leafs would strike again, this time courtesy of Andreas Johnnson. On the goal he was able to sneak behind the Bruins defence and received a pass from Kadri. Now left alone he deked out Rask and buried it high glove side for a 2-0 Leafs lead. Despite Boston out shooting Toronto 15-6 in the first they would go to the second trailing 2-0.
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Period two saw a parade of players going to the penalty box as there were a combined nine penalties called in period two. As a result there were a couple goals scored on the powerplay as period two became a shooting gallery for both sides. Boston would strike first on a powerplay halfway through the period on a favourable bounce for David Backes. The puck was shot over the net and instead of going around the glass, it bounced in front of Andersen and Backes deposited it in the empty cage. The relief was short lived though as the Leafs would restore the two goal lead less than one minute later. It would be Tyler Bozak who would restore the lead on a beautiful shot that beat Rask on the blocker side. They weren’t done there as the Leafs would then score on a powerplay of their own only a minute after the third goal. This time James Van Riemsdyk would score after a mad scramble in front of Rask to make it a 4-1 Toronto lead. That would be the end of Rask’s night giving up four goals on sixteen shots, he would be replaced by backup Anton Khudobin. Boston would wake up after that putting home a goal of their own near the end of the period. No one would pick up Sean Kuraly alone in the slot and he’d put the one-timer past Andersen to cut the lead to 4-2. Both teams had ten shots on goal in the period and both scored twice meaning Boston had some work to do in period three.
Sure enough it only took six minutes in for the Bruins to pull within a goal. Another fortunate bounce for Boston would lead to a goal by Noel Acciari very similar to the Backes goal earlier. Suddenly it was a one goal game with over half the period to play, and the Bruins were firing on all cylinders. They shelled Andersen throwing a 20-5 shot differential in the third and though Andersen bent, he did not break. Toronto would hold on for the 4-3 lead and stay alive in the series. Andersen was the more busy of the netminders as the games shot totals were 45-21 in favour of the Bruins. Guess Tampa will have to wait to find out who they play in the next round. Game six will be in Toronto Monday April 23rd.