Talking Points: Rask's shaky game burns the Bruins

Talking Points: Rask's shaky game burns the Bruins

GOLD STAR: Frederik Andersen has been the top player in both of Toronto’s playoff wins in this series, so I am beginning to sense a pattern here. If Andersen plays All-World hockey and the Bruins aren’t quite on their game, they are in trouble. If Andersen is off at all or the Bruins are 100 percent on point, the Leafs don’t have much of a chance. This time Andersen stopped 42 shots while Toronto hung on for dear life in the third period and he stopped 19-of-20 shots for a Leafs team that looked like they were leaking oil. But Andersen made a number of stellar stops while standing tall in the crease and Toronto did just enough good things offensively to create enough space to carry them home. If Andersen somehow really gets into a groove in the final couple of games, that might be the only way that Toronto has a chance of still pulling this off against the Bruins.

BLACK EYE: Tuukka Rask basked himself in his postgame comments, so I suppose it’s finally okay to criticize him now, right? Rask actually wasn’t terrible in this game with some really bad play in front of him during the first period that led to the first couple of goals, but the third goal allowed to Tyler Bozak is one that he needs to stop just a minute after the Bruins finally got on the board and grabbed some momentum. He was finally pulled after James van Riemsdyk roofed one on him in tight on the power play, and he ended up allowing four goals on 13 shots before getting yanked in the second period. Clearly he wasn’t as good as Andersen and it’s just as clear he wasn’t as good as he was in Game 4 on Thursday night, but Rask ends up becoming the fall guy for a Bruins team that didn’t do enough early in the game to deserve closing it out on home ice. So now they go to Toronto to try and end it in Game 6 on Monday night.

TURNING POINT: The killer goal allowed by the Bruins was the third goal to Tyler Bozak on a long, stretch pass as the Bruins were changing behind the play, and Bozak got a chance in the slot one-on-one against Tuukka Rask. Bozak beat the Bruins goalie with his attempt, the Leads scored less than a minute after David Backes had energized the crowd with Boston’s first goal of the night, and the Bruins continued to chase the game. That’s one of those moments where your big time goalie needs to make a big time save like he did 48 hours ago in Toronto, but it wasn’t meant to be this time around with a chance to close out the Leafs on home ice. Plenty happened before and after that play, but that was the crucial one after a pretty bad first period for the Black and Gold.

HONORABLE MENTION: Give it up for the Bruins fourth line that supplied two of the three goals that they scored, and pushed the team one freak play of tying up the game in the third period. Sean Kuraly scored the first of the two goals on a great shot under the bar after a perfect backhanded dish from Matt Grzelcyk, and then Noel Acciari scored in the third period on a loose puck at the side of the net to push the B’s as close as they would get. In all the fourth line had six shots on net, seven hits and most importantly didn’t get scored on when they were out on the ice. They have enjoyed plenty of games where they’ve done excellent, underrated things for the Bruins this season, so here’s a chance for them to get some of the credit during the playoffs. They bring it every night, but tonight they get the honorable mention.  

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the number of career playoff appearances for Anton Khudobin after making his postseason debut in Saturday night’s Game 5 loss. Khudobin ended up stopping all eight shots he faced while the B’s came up just short in the game.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I probably could have stopped more pucks with my eyes closed. That’s about it. It’s on me.” –Tuukka Rask, on his subpar Game 5 performance where he said he had no problem getting pulled midway through the second period.

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Bruins can't end series, fall 4-3 to Leafs in Game 5

Bruins can't end series, fall 4-3 to Leafs in Game 5

BOSTON – So it appears the Maple Leafs can protect a three-goal playoff lead at TD Garden every once in a while.

The Bruins never held a lead in Game 5 and ended up falling by a 4-3 final score despite a furious comeback with Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen stopping 42 shots while extending the series and sending it back to Canada. The Bruins still hold a 3-2 advantage and will get another chance to close it out in the best-of-seven series on Monday night at the Air Canada Centre.

After a decent opening push in the first few minutes, the Leafs were able to take advantage of a scuffling Bruins crew with a couple of first period goals.

It was Connor Brown that first got on the board after getting elevated to the top line with Auston Matthews, and then elevating one of his shots by taking a baseball whack at a bouncing puck after a Matthews wrap-around attempt. Andreas Johnsson made it a two-goal lead for the Leafs with a goal kicked in from Toronto’s fourth line, and the Leafs were off and running.  

Boston finally got on the board with a power play strike midway through the second period when he hammered home a loose puck in front after a bounce off the high glass landed in front of the net. Less than a minute later, however, the Bruins transition defense let them down with Tyler Bozak breaking in free for a chance that beat Tuukka Rask from the slot to once again give the Leafs a two-goal advantage.

A minute later Toronto made it a three-goal lead when James van Riemsdyk finished a play under the bar while all alone in front, and that was it for Tuukka Rask, who was pulled after giving up four goals on 13 shots. He sprinted up the runway to the dressing room after getting replaced by Anton Khudobin, but the change seemed to spark the Black and Gold a little bit.

The fourth line came alive with Matt Grzelcyk throwing a slick backhanded pass from the corner to Sean Kuraly waiting in front, and the fourth line center buried it under the bar before jumping into the corner glass in celebration.

Noel Acciari added a goal of his own as a fourth line offense supplier in the third period to get the Bruins to within one score with a lot of time to play, but the Leafs managed to survive the third despite a 20-shot barrage from the B’s trying desperately to tie it up.

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Krejci still one of the big keys for B's postseason success

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Krejci still one of the big keys for B's postseason success

BRIGHTON, Mass – Looking at the numbers, David Krejci has been very good in the first round series against the Maple Leafs with two goals and four points in four postseason games.

But three of those four points came in the two lopsided wins for the Bruins on home ice in Game 1 and Game 2, and it was a bit of a different story up in Toronto. Krejci was a minus player in the Game 3 loss to the Maple Leafs and then saw his ice time drop to a series-low 13:07 in Game 4 as the B’s squeaked out the 3-1 victory over the Leafs with Patrice Bergeron out of the lineup.

Krejci managed just a couple of shots on net in the two road games in Toronto, had a series of turnovers including one that led to a breakaway in the first period of Game 4 and experienced trouble generating second line offense most of the time in the two games. That all changed when he lifted a saucer pass to Jake DeBrusk in the third period of Game 4 that provided the insurance score in Boston’s pivotal victory, but it made for a tough series of games to evaluate No. 46.

MORE BRUINS: Cassidy expects Bergeron to play tonight

“I think he’s a guy that’s been there before, so he can rise up and elevate his game. When he doesn’t sometimes it can be frustrating because you want him to be at that level all the time, which is a big ask. But at the end of the day he’s got speed on his wings now, and we’re just asking him to be mindful of using them,” said Bruce Cassidy. “If they’re going to tighten up and have tight gaps where Toronto wants to be up, then you should play behind them at times and he’s got the wingers to do it.

“He’s a guy that’s been in this league and had success in the playoffs, so you don’t want to tell him how to play the game. But [it’s about] understanding what the other team is doing. You try to educate him on that, so he can make good decisions where he’s using his wingers to their best ability. But at the end of the day he made a big play to put the game away, so kudos to him. How did it start? It started with him blocking a shot.”

The hope obviously is that the Krejci-to-DeBrusk connection at the end of Game 4 might spark that second line a little bit, and allow the trio of Krejci, DeBrusk and Rick Nash to generate more offensive support up front. The Bruins top line has been so good against the Maple Leafs defense that they might need any secondary support in this current first round series, but they’re going to need more from Krejci and Co. moving forward against teams with deeper, stronger defensive units.

“It turned out to be an insurance goal, and a really big one for our team,” said Krejci. “It helps, but it’s a new team where we know they’ve gotten better. We just need to leave everything on the ice. We’ll just go shift-by-shift and focus on that every single time.

“We’ve been getting chances, but the main thing is managing the puck. They’re a quick transition team and if you make mistakes they have lots of speed and lots of skill. So they’ll make it count. You need to make sure you play smart and create offense from playing down low, fore-checks and being really hard on their ‘D’. That’s what we’re trying to do, especially early on tonight.”

Given that Krejci led the playoff field in scoring in each of the two postseasons where the Bruins got to the Cup Final, both the Czech center and his hockey team know how important he is to achieving playoff success. He may not lead all scorers in points this time around, but an effective, dangerous second line for the Bruins is important to the kind of sustained success the Black and Gold are looking for this spring.

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