They were dominating the Toronto Maple Leafs, but that all changed on Monday night.
However, the Leafs' 4-2 victory over Boston Monday night in Game 3 at the ACC opened up the race for the Conn Smythe. It seems like the biggest determinant in this series is the success - or lack thereof - of the Bruins' top line trio of Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak, and now that the Leafs countered in Game 3, it will be time for Bruce Cassidy and his players to do the same in Game 4 on Thursday night.
"I think we just need to eliminate some of their space", said Andersen. "We need to play with better discipline - especially when we have the lead twice". This a must win game. The lanky JVR, who had 36 goals in the regular season but had been barely visible in the first two games in Boston, jammed it home between Rask's blocker arm and body from the top of the crease and the Leafs were up 1-0. Holden had a goal and five points in 18 regular-season games with the Bruins.
"The way I look at all of this is none of that matters", said Babcock. "If we can come out here and put forth a good effort and play the way we're capable of, you've got to start on somewhere".
Complementing the renewed scoring prowess of Matthews was something of a vintage performance from Marleau.
Seven seconds into Toronto's power play, James van Riemsdyk scored to put Toronto ahead 1-0. "When you go right through it from - the way I look at it is, there are so many things we can do better", Babcock said Sunday after holding a team meeting. "But now we're just going to have to go to work at home and get both of these games". "It was a good feeling obviously", Andersen said. And if they didn't... well, we've already established what that would have made them. "At the end of the day, our guys do believe - from one to 12, I do believe our guys believe they can score". "That's a game-changer for sure". Boston had several more opportunities than the Leafs and could have easily taken the lead.
This was a period filled with intense back-and-forth action. It's a feeling the Leafs are eager to hold onto.
This next game will dictate the rest of the series. "It was great to see, a great play by William as well, but it was a big goal for our team".
To say this has been a challenging series for Andersen so far would be an understatement.
Donato skated just 9:24 in Game 2, registering no points with three shots on net. The second period is where things began going awry. The Leafs supported each other in the offensive zone, keeping Rask on his toes and ensuring the Bruins defencemen were consistently looking over their shoulders. Andersen was fighting the puck after that point, even when the Leafs restored their lead. The defenseman dished it back down low to Bozak on the left side. Bergeron knew where he had to go to mark Matthews but couldn't get there - not even to wave at him. It was his first goal of the series. It wasn't necessarily pretty, but it was everything the Leafs needed from their MVP.
The Leafs were also the more physical team, dishing out 19 hits to Boston's 11.
Already struggling on offense, Toronto lost No. 4 scorer Nazem Kadri for three games when he was suspended by the National Hockey League for boarding Tommy Wingels in Game 1. The 20-year-old got his first point of the series on this great shot that beat Tuukka Rask in the second period.
But at 14:47, the Leafs' top line finally got the better of the B's best unit. The icing on his proverbial cake was an absolutely terrific pass to Marleau on his insurance marker late in the third, a helper sent with all the swagger Plekanec had yet to show in blue and white.