Bruins Beaten Again, Leafs Force Game 7

Game 6 Recap (series tied 3-3)

The Boston Bruins failed to close out the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second time in three nights, falling 2-1. As a result the two clubs will square off Monday night at TD Garden in a decisive seventh game.

Both the Bruins and Leafs began the game a bit tentative. It was apparent both sides understood what was at stake as the opening minutes served as a feeling out process with play going back and forth. Just as the B’s began to mount pressure, Toronto killed the momentum, countering with attacking zone rushes.

Though the Black-and-Gold did dominate much of the play in the early going. Each club skated with great intensity, exchanged physical blows all evening, and the scoring chances were at premium because of tight defensive play.

The net minders were not tested as much as they had been in prior games but still James Reimer and Tuukka Rask shined brightly. Rask saved 26 shots, including a couple of noteworthy glove saves. Reimer turned aside 29, following up his excellent game 5 efforts in convincing fashion.

Toronto showcased greater resiliency, seemingly beating the Bruins in the dirty areas, corralling more lose pucks, and finishing off the opportunities that were their for the taking. Whether it is fatigue or injury nagging them, Claude Julien’s squad must dig deep and find a way to string together sixty minutes of determined hockey now.

Winners of two straight elimination games, the Maple Leafs will now carry the momentum with the hopes of advancing on to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. In victory the Leafs also earned their first post-season win on home ice against Boston since 1959. The B’s will be playing in the fifth game seven in their last six-playoff series.

If there is any sort of silver lining to this game seven showdown, it is the fact that Boston is a much more experienced group. They have been there, done that. The Bruins emerged victorious in three elimination games on their way to the 2011 Stanley Cup championship. The Leafs are vastly inexperienced when it comes to a situation of such magnitude. With many guys who have never made it this far, it will be interesting to see how the Leafs respond to the magnified pressure.

Scoring Summary:

No goals were scored in the first and second periods. The Leafs and Bruins traded numerous scoring chances but none of which came to fruition. The goaltending was stellar and for Toronto, it kept several furious Bruins shifts of extended attacking zone pressure at bay.

Dion Phaneuf scored the tilt’s first goal 1:48 into the final frame. The Leafs captain rotated to the front of the Boston cage and tipped a Nazem Kadri shot by Rask, breaking a scoreless tie.

Later in the third, Phil Kessel added to a 1-0 Leafs lead, banging home a James van Riemsdyk rebound. It was all Toronto would need, as the Bruins could not overcome a 2-0 deficit.

Milan Lucic did give the Bruins a glimmer of hope, tallying the B’s lone marker in the game’s final seconds at 19:34. Lucic carved out some space in front of James Reimer and rifled in a Jaromir Jagr pass. It was too little too late, shades of game five all over again.

What Went Right:

The Bruins rolled four lines for almost the entire game. Each line was involved emotionally and physically. Milan Lucic scored, giving his line a combined 24 points in the series.

Bergeron’s line also seemed to be more active, getting involved with more scrums along the boards and working the puck to the front. The merlot line was by far the most productive, instilling energy when it was needed all game long.

Boston’s defense buckled down, holding the Leafs to only 26 shots. They faired rather decently considering Andrew Ference was out of the lineup and the pairings were shuffled.

Tuukka Rask was yet again brilliant. Unfortunately the Bruins could not pick him up. The B’s goaltender has been consistently good all series.

What Went Wrong:

A net front presence was severely lacking. It’s really quite simple. When the Bruins get bodies and pucks to the front, they win. When they don’t they lose and tonight was a prime example. Reimer allowed a plentiful amount of rebounds and the Toronto defense had no issue in clearing Boston out of the paint.

The power play was powerless. In such a low scoring game, the Bruins would have benefitted from a score with the man advantage. The unit continues to be vastly inconsistent.

Turnovers continue to bite the Bruins. A David Krejci giveaway directly resulted in one of the Leafs scoring plays.

Hate to beat a dead horse, but Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand need to do what the Bruins pay them to do, score. In a close game a goal from one of the two would have made a huge difference.

Three Stars:

*James Reimer: 29 Saves, SV% .967

**Phil Kessel: 1 goal, 5 SOG

***Dion Phaneuf: 1 goal, 2 hits

Quote of the Night:

Claude Julien on the Bruins play: “We’ve been a Jekyll-and-Hyde hockey team all year and that’s what you’re seeing right now. I think it’s important for us to bring the good Bruins team to the table for Game 7.”

What’s Up Next?

The Bruins sure do like to make things difficult of themselves. A game 7 awaits at TD Garden Monday night. Toronto has only won one series, in 1942, after being down three games to one.

As for the Bruins, well, they will be flying back to Boston on Monday morning due to a malfunction with the team’s charter.

Frank O’Laughlin – NHL Contributor – TitleTown Sports


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