TORONTO – The big headline was there for everybody to see after the Bruins' Game 3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Boston’s big top line was held without a point after piling up 20 points in the first two games and that played a major role in the 4-2 loss to the Leafs at Air Canada Centre. They were even on the ice for the eventual game-winner for Auston Matthews in a fatigue-created event when they couldn’t clear the puck out of the zone and get off for a change.
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So, the natural question to be asked after Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak are shut down: Could frustration possibly begin to creep into their game, particularly after a number of close calls they couldn’t finish when it mattered most in Game 3?
The short answer from that trio is a confident “no.”
“[Frederik Andersen] made the great saves. A little bit of bad luck this game, but these games happen. We need to do the same thing we did after the first game, and just come in [the next few days] and get better,” said Pastrnak. “I think we’re still the better team. We had tough luck around the net and they didn’t. We forget about this and get ready for Game 4.
“You see that it happens in your life as well. One day you’re having a great day, and the next day you wake up and it’s an absolutely [expletive] day. So it happens, you know. Just like I forgot about those first two games, you know, we forget about [Game 3] and get better for the next game.”
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That goes for their coach as well, who went one step further and said those particularly competitive players would be pushing even harder after putting up a goose egg in their first road playoff game in Toronto.
“I don’t think they’ll be frustrated at all. Pasta not as much, but the other two have been through a lot in the playoffs. Sometimes it’s going to go your way and sometimes it’s not,” said Bruce Cassidy. “It didn’t go our way [in Game 3]. Pasta had a lot of good looks and he’s going to finish. We saw that in the first two games.
“Clearly, it’s going to give them some motivation and it should when you keep them off the score sheet. It’s going to be talked about just like it was talked about with [Auston] Matthews. At the end of the day, I don’t think it will bother them one bit, and in fact, they might bear down a little bit more. That’s what you hope would be the case when they don’t go in. You make sure it does go by them when you get the chance.”
The evidence is pretty compelling that this was much more about the Bruins not finishing and less about the Maple Leafs defense really holding them down. Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak had 22 shot attempts, hit at least three or four crossbars and posts and had a bevy of scoring chances that went unfinished with only one power play in Game 3. The Leafs certainly battled them a little harder with Tomas Plekanec at the center of a checking line designed to disrupt and contain them and there were certainly more of a concerted effort by Toronto's defense to up the battle level around the net.
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But the B’s Perfection Line also could have easily had two or three goals in Game 3 without the posts or the 18-save superhuman effort by Andersen in the third period. Those things are very unlikely to be repeated by Toronto three more times in a best-of-seven series. The smart money says it will be production, rather than frustration, that everybody will be talking about with Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak once things have settled on a pivotal Game 4 on Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre.