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21 April 2018, 10:02 | Donald Newman
Leafs 'under the gun,' especially Matthews and Kadri
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy isn't ready to clarify the status of Patrice Bergeron going into Friday night's clash with the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 5 of their opening round playoff series at TD Garden.
Bergeron's absence in Game 4 was a lifeline the Leafs failed to grab in a crushing 3-1 loss that saw Toronto carry the play for long stretches, only to be done in by a lack of finish, too many pedestrian performances, and some stunning defensive miscues that led to two goals against on odd-man rushes.
That trio figured in Boston's first two goals in the Bruins' 3-1 win, including Marchand's victor with 3:05 left in the second period. The Maple Leafs beat the Bruins 3-2 in overtime. He's been the Bruins best player in these playoffs so far, with 11 points through four games. Riley Nash replaced Bergeron on the first line, while Sean Kuraly became the third line center, and Noel Acciari centered the fourth line. "We got it, and we needed it, because early on, they were better". With centre Nazem Kadri serving the second of his three-game suspension on Monday and Toronto having last change with home-ice advantage, Babcock felt the need to move Plekanec up in the lineup with the hope of maximizing what he could get out of the veteran centre.
Tied 1-1 in the second period, Nash won an important defensive zone draw after Boston had iced the puck and was left with a exhausted group of players on the ice that moments later led to the winning goal. Less than 30 seconds passed in the game before the Bruins found the back of the net and put Toronto on their heels immediately.
Boston can close out the best-of-seven series at home in Game 5 on Saturday night.
"It's unfortunate for him he missed three games", coach Mike Babcock said.
"We're a tight-knit group", Leafs winger Mitch Marner said.
The Bruins doubled the lead in the third period with this nifty connection from David Krejci to Jake DeBrusk. The team's been forced to defend opponent power plays just 7.9 minutes per game over their last 10 outings. That game is over and we are on to today. The four-time victor of the award given to the league's best defensive forward was the Bruins' third-leading scorer this season with 30 goals and 33 assists.
Auston Matthews scored the victor on a setup from William Nylander in Game 3, but both have been held off the scoresheet otherwise.
Marchand was surprised that the play even happened, believing that once Nash won the faceoff that it was instantly time to skate to the bench for a rest.
Also crucial was the goaltending of Tuukka Rask, who did allow the Leafs to tie it at the 7:43 mark of the first period on a goal by Tomas Plekanec, but stopped everything else in making 31 saves to push the Leafs to the brink of elimination. "I thought the same with (Nylander). I definitely think so, but the three games was definitely a little harsh".
"We had a breakaway and a 2-on-1, and we got nothing on it".
"He's been our backbone", said defenseman Adam McQuaid, who is in his ninth season with the Bruins and has seen all of Rask's National Hockey League ups and downs.
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