The Boston Bruins fell short in their effort to claim a stranglehold on their first-round series with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday evening, as the Leafs prevailed 4-2 in Game 3. The wildly entertaining win gave them some breathing room in the series by cutting the Bruins' lead to 2-1.
However, the game wasn't tied for long as Patrick Marleau responded 55 seconds later, finishing a attractive 2-on-1 pass from Mitch Marner.
Babcock is nothing if not stubborn. He promoted Plekanec to second-line centre, Nazem Kadri's job before he was suspended for three games due to a massive brain cramp.
"It was a game - and a style of game - that I expected and [that] we expected", Patrice Bergeron told reporters following a minus-2 outing in Game 3.
Clearly, Babcock must have stumbled on that old YouTube footage of Brad Marchand saying Plekanec, more than any other National Hockey League forward, drove him insane.
What, you thought the team that took the 3-1-0 regular season series over the Bruins wasn't ever going to show up in the playoffs?
The Bruins generated several golden scoring chances against the Leafs throughout the third, including two near-misses by David Pastrnak within 26 seconds on an early power play. It happened to us in Winnipeg a little while ago, a goal. "He played his best game since he's been here". Nylander must have been listening, because by the end of the second period he and Matthews were flying like it was the regular season.
Auston Matthews would score his first goal of the postseason in front of his parents at Air Canada Centre.
They could never pull even and with time winding down, David Krejci turned the puck over to old nemesis Tomas Plekanec inside the Toronto blue line and the Leafs went back on 2-on-1.
Last season's playoffs loss to the Washington Capitals was a learning experience for the young Maple Leafs, and suffering that defeat has allowed this "older, more experienced, more comfortable" Toronto team to bounce back against the Bruins.
Boston weathered the storm early and responded quite well with attacks of their own for most of the period.
While the Leafs have seen some pretty impressive improvement in their offensive play, their defence is taking a bit of a hit. Matthews said. "That was a game changer for sure, because there was still two minutes left and (if he doesn't make the save) now you're down by one". Usually as a coach, when a referee makes a call and they make it, you kind of live with it because it's decisive. The Leafs managed to stay out of the penalty box in the first 40 minutes, which was enough to finally put a dent in the Boston power play.
On the surface, it doesn't look like the Leafs have been able to make much headway in shutting down the Bergeron line at 5-on-5, and frankly they've been most unsafe on the power play so far.
James van Riemsdyk also scored for Toronto.
Not everything should attempt to be replicated, however: That the Leafs had to rely on Andersen to make 18 saves in the third period, when the Bruins had 28 shot attempts to the Leafs' 13 in all situations, was akin to playing with fire. Pulled from Game 2, Frederik Andersen suddenly morphed into a modern-day Dominik Hasek.
The second period opened as a slightly slower version of the first until Adam McQuaid scored on a point shot that squeaked under Freddy Anderson's pad. The tie was short-lived as Marleau directed a well-placed pass from Mitch Marner past Rask to restore Toronto's one-goal lead with 16:11 remaining. But Andersen committed the cardinal sin for goalies - he let in another softie after his teammates worked mightily to get the lead back.
But the Bruins again responded on a goal Andersen will want back when Chara ripped a shot off his mask and in from an impossible angle at 6:19. He sniped it over Rask's right shoulder to put the Leafs up 3-2. It was his first goal of the series.
The Leafs came out hard with some jump early in the first period.