Bruins Defeat Leafs In Overtime Thriller

Game 4 Recap (Bruins lead series 3-1)

The Boston Bruins emerged victorious Wednesday night, prevailing in overtime, 4-3. Toronto now trails the Black-and-Gold three games to one in this best of seven series. The fans at Air Canada Center witnessed a hockey masterpiece unfold before their eyes. It was an absolute gem of game and one of the most passionate Original 6 battles in recent memory. Both the Bruins and Leafs clashed with great intensity and emotions ran high from start to finish. Each team exchanged blows, flying up and down the ice, stringing together furious flurries of action.

Boston stood their ground though, overcoming a two-goal deficit. Claude Julien’s men stuck to the game plan, believed in one another all evening, and stayed determined in their efforts. Tuukka Rask was dynamite, David Krejci was poetry in motion, and the B’s once again turned in a remarkable team performance. The Bruins will now return home with a chance to close out the series after sweeping games 3 and 4 in enemy territory.

Toronto was equally impressive in the tilt. The Maple Leafs never allowed the Bruins to pull away, staying with in striking distance, ultimately forcing extra time. Like Boston, they also played with tremendous heart, refusing to back down. The Leafs pushed the pace of play, nearly winning on numerous occasions. But in the playoffs, nearly doesn’t get it done. To the dismay of the hometown faithful, post-season hockey they so longed for may very well have come and gone.

Good news for the Bruins is the fact that they are 15-2 when leading a best of seven playoff series 3-1. The Leafs on the other hand, well, their fortune looks bleak, as they are 2-12-1 over their last 15 contests played at TD Garden.

Game Summary:

The Bruins and Leafs will be spending some serious time icing down prior to Friday night. It was a highly physical showdown. Boston dished out 48 hits while Toronto connected for a whopping 71 hits. Each club had the offense rolling as well, registering a combined 93 (Boston-45, Toronto-48) shots on goal. The difference in this one was Boston’s special team play. Their penalty kill was an impressive 4-for-4 and they cashed in twice in five attempts on the power play.

This game was downright gruesome at times as bloodshed seemed to become a common theme. Milan Lucic took a shot to the face resulting in a trail of blood. Chris Kelly caught a high stick to the face, slicing his cheek open. Then it was Toronto’s Mark Fraser who was hit by a Lucic high drive, splitting his forehead wide open. The compete level was at an all time high. Both sides displayed unprecedented desperation, sacrificing the body for the betterment of the team.

Toronto opened up the scoring, striking twice in the first period. Joffrey Lupul scored on the Leafs first shot attempt at 2:35. Phil Kessel who swooped around behind the Boston cage and slid one in front for Lupul set up the play. Cody Franson added another tally prior to the period’s end. His blast beat Rask and gave the Leafs a 2-0 lead after twenty.

Boston put in work in the second, scoring three times. Patrice Bergeron cut the Leafs lead in half, scoring on the power play just 0:32 into the frame. David Krejci added the game tying goal on a strong net drive, deflecting a Brad Marchand shot by James Reimer as he cleared a Toronto defender out of the paint. Krejci was just getting started. Later in the second, he struck again on the power play, driving a Nathan Horton one-time pass home. The Bruins would hold a 3-2 lead only for a moment because Clarke MacArthur tied the game 44 seconds later.

No goals were scored in the third period. In overtime it was David Krejci completing his hat trick, beating Reimer yet again at 13:06. Krejci joined the company of a select few who that have earned a hat trick with a sudden death winner.

What Went Right:

The Bruins top line continues to dominate.  Lucic, Krejci, and Horton are showing no signs of slowing down and are torching the Leafs right now. Toronto has no answer for them as they proved to be more than a handful once again. With the hat trick, Krejci now has 5 goals and 5 assists, giving him the league lead in playoff points and goals. Horton now has 3 goals and 3 assists. Lucic now has seven assists and has been a clear difference maker. The trio has now combined for 23 points in 4 games.

Tuukka Rask dazzles yet again. Rask may not have gotten a Vezina nominee, but he certainly has been playing like he is deserving. The B’s net minder was outstanding, especially in overtime. Rask faced numerous rebound bids and denied them all in stunning fashion. He stopped 45 out of 48 shots directed toward him, many of which were tips or deflections from high quality scoring angles. For Tuukka to go into Toronto and take both games in a hostile environment really is a special accomplishment for this Boston squad.

The special teams units come up clutch. The Bruins struck twice on the power play in this game. Bergeron and Krejci both found twine with a man up. They showed patience in their set up, moving the puck around fluidly, hoping to find the open man. They amassed numerous chances and converted at a high rate. The penalty kill proved to be just as vital, killing off all four penalties that they were summoned for. The Leafs had been 4-for-12 with a man up. Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara both deserve immense recognition for their efforts on the PK. They logged some serious TOI.

Praiseworthy toughness proves invaluable. The entire Boston lineup and most notably Johnny Boychuk laid it all on the line for the team. Boychuk led the Bruins with a team high 7 hits and 7 blocks. At one point the blue-liner was struck in the ankle with a shot, could not get up, yet continued to throw himself in front of several more Leafs shots. His sacrifice was truly inspirational and it’s the kind of performance that speaks volumes. Boychuk is a warrior and he epitomizes Boston Bruins hockey. Redden chipped in 6 hits while Chara and McQuaid had 5 apiece.

What Went Wrong:

Sluggish opening period nearly proved to be costly. The Bruins got off to a slow start, falling behind by two goals. Granted Boston battled back and won the game, it’s something they should wisely avoid in the future. Not all games will play out in a similar manner. The opening twenty minutes can sometimes determine the winner and loser. If the Bruins can put together a strong opening frame, they could be in line for dominating wins.

Three Stars:

*David Krejci – 3 goals, 0 assists, 22:18 TOI

**Tuukka Rask – 45 saves, .938 SV%

***Zdeno Chara – 0 goals, 4 assists, 33:03 TOI

Quote of the Night:

Lucic on Krejci: “I’ve seen it for 6 years now and it’s pretty amazing in my eyes that it’s gone overlooked as long as it has. He’s a big-time player.”

What’s Up Next?

Game 5 of the series will be played Friday at TD Garden. The Bruins will have the opportunity to finish off the Leafs and get some needed rest prior to the next round of the playoffs. Not sure what Toronto has left in the tank after a tough loss, but the Bruins need to put the foot down early and get the fans involved.

Frank O’Laughlin – NHL Contributor – TitleTown Sports

 

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