GOLD STAR: Auston Matthews has really grown up in this series and it was the Leafs franchise center that broke open the game in the third period with a one-timer bullet from the face-off circle on a broken play. That was the go-ahead goal that snapped a defensive battle and gave the Leafs the operating room to eventually win. Matthews finished with a goal, five shots on net, six shot attempts, two takeaways, a blocked shot and a plus-2 in 17:44 of ice time. Matthews has four goals in five games in the series and has been the difference-maker this time around that he wasn’t last spring vs. Boston.
BLACK EYE: It’s the Bruins for failing to capitalize on three power-play chances they had after routinely winning games with their special teams in the regular season. The first two power plays actually featured some pretty good scoring chances and decent pressure on the Leafs penalty kill that they’ve solved the past few seasons. But on Friday night, they couldn’t push a puck past Freddie Andersen on the first two PP chances, and then they had one final, dreadful power-play chance in the second period after Mitch Marner had tossed a puck over the benches and into the stands for a delay of game. Given their struggles to score 5-on-5 this season everybody knew Boston’s PP was going to have to be huge for them in the playoffs, and it let them down in a big way in Game 5.
TURNING POINT: Clearly, the Matthews goal. It was a one-timer bullet from the weak side, but it was also a possible case for goalie interference as Zach Hyman backed into Tuukka Rask after cross-checking Charlie McAvoy in front of the net. Hyman definitely nudged Rask before the Matthews shot arrived and by the letter of the law, it could have been interference. But it seemed as if the league officials thought that Rask wasn’t going to make that save anyway and truth be told he probably wasn’t based on the play and who was shooting the puck. Still, that won’t, - and shouldn’t - stop Bruins fans from being pissed about it.
HONORABLE MENTION: Kasperi Kapanen was another Leafs forward who came to play and finished with a goal and two points while also ending up what proved to be the winning goal. Kapanen finished with the two points, a plus-2, six shot attempts, three hits and some of the few offensive plays made in a defensive showdown. The fact that Matthews and Kapanen come away as two of the Leafs offensive stars in a grimy defensive grudge match tells you plenty about the Maple Leafs' as playoff performers from one year ago. If Toronto is going to advance. then it’s largely on the backs of these young guys finally growing into their own.
BY THE NUMBERS: 3-20 – The Bruins record in a best-of-seven series when they trail 3-2. The last time they won Games 6 and 7 of a series? Their Stanley Cup Final victory in 2011.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s either interference or it’s not. He backs into Tuukka. From my viewpoint, it certainly looked like interference, but it didn’t go our way.” –Bruce Cassidy on the third-period Matthews goal that invited controversy when Hyman bumped into Rask prior to the puck arriving. But a goalie interference challenge was waved off by the NHL.
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