It was a playoff type atmosphere at Scotiabank Arena Saturday night in a tightly fought and very entertaining match that the Bruins hung on to win 3-2 over the hometown Maple Leafs.
The Bruins outside of their top unit don’t possess the firepower of the Leafs, but what they lack in skill they make up for with grit and determination. Throw in a solid goaltending performance by Tuukka Rask and it’s a pretty tough combination to over come for any team especially during the playoffs.
The Maple Leafs played a terrific game and had Boston chasing them most of the night, but a couple defensive miscues, one maybe two stoppable goals and the Bruins bending at times but not breaking equals another frustrating loss for the blue and white.
Sean Kuraly paced the visitors with a goal and two assists while David Krejci along with Leafs killer David Pastrnak had the others. Mitch Marner on the power play and Andreas Johnsson had markers for Toronto.
Michael Hutchinson played well enough but needs to make one of the three that ended up behind him. If Toronto has any aspirations of an extended season especially when Andersen is back, the goaltending will be the key to success.
The defense pairing of Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaitsev continue to struggle in their own end and they definitely have to be better. The emergence of Travis Dermott and partner Igor Ozhiganov may leave coach Babcock no choice but to up their minutes at the expense of 51 and 22.
I really liked Ozhiganov’s game tonight that is improving by the shift as his confidence continues to grow; he’s making smarter plays with the puck; calculated risks on the pinch and jumping into the play. He’s also playing tougher on the puck that is clearly lacking in Toronto’s defensive responsibilities.
The Leafs were caught flat-footed in the first few minutes of the opening period but it was like a switch went off and they reversed the flow of play from then on.
It was reminiscent of the Tampa game earlier in the year with same result, but the one thing that should be impressed upon the young Leafs is even though they out played Tampa and Boston, both those clubs found ways to play tough enough to win.
Its called playoff hockey.