GOLD STAR: Brad Marchand got things off and running with the Bruins, and was at his best after answering questions over the last couple of days about his lack of goals in the postseason. He scored the game’s first goal when he took a dish from Torey Krug on the PP and elevated a backhander over Frederik Andersen in close to the net, and then turned into the whirling dervish in the corner before dishing to David Pastrnak in the second period for the insurance goal that really put it out of reach for the Maple Leafs. In all Marchand finished with a goal and two points, a plus-1 rating in 17:56 of ice time, six shot attempts and three hits along with a 4-for-6 performance in the face-off circle when Patrice Bergeron kept getting kicked out of the circle. Even better Marchand nuzzled up to Leo Komarov in front of the benches after giving him a smooch on the cheek in a regular season game in Boston earlier this season, and was at his agitating best with the hard-hitting Leafs forward. Marchand produced, he played in control and he agitated the crap out of the Leafs in a performance worthy of one of the best players in the league.
BLACK EYE: Nazem Kadri was the bozo for the night for the Maple Leafs. Not only did the Toronto forward fail to register a shot on net or do anything meaningful in the game, but he also compounded it by throwing a reckless, cheap shot hit on Tommy Wingels in the third period. Kadri was whacked with a five minute major for charging, a 10-minute misconduct and a two-minute minor for boarding, and launched from his skates while clearly targeting a vulnerable player in Wingels that was on his knees against the boards. It was a punk move to say the least, but it’s also one that looks like it might be carrying a hefty suspension right along with it. That would be a major blow to Toronto and would certainly fit Kadri with a pair of goat horns if the series gets away from the Leafs.
TURNING POINT: The big moment for the Bruins was killing a pair of second period Toronto power plays in a game that was still tied at 1-1, with Zdeno Chara in the box for the first penalty and then playing the full two minutes on the power play for the second one. Once the Bruins had effectively killed off those power plays, they crushed whatever momentum Toronto had built up and then went about scoring a couple more goals to start putting things out of reach. But it was still a 1-1 game in the second period and things very much hung in the balance when all of that pushed and tested the Bruins, and they showed they were up to the challenge in a resounding way. By the time the period was over, the B’s had outshot the Leafs by a 16-11 margin and had full control of the proceedings.
HONORABLE MENTION: It’s got to be David Pastrnak. He finished with a goal and three points, a plus-1 rating and 10 shot attempts in his 16:02 of ice time, and busted the game wide open with a couple different plays. First there was the goal in the second period on a wrist shot from the slot after he wasn’t able to score on the one-timer, and the Bruins top line had basically turned things into a shooting gallery against a weak Toronto defense. Even better was the rush toward the net that Frederik Andersen somehow stopped in the third period, but Sean Kuraly was able to bat home the insurance goal to ice the game in the final 20 minutes. Pastrnak had his ups and downs in last season’s first playoff experience, but he was ready to go on Thursday night for Game 1.
BY THE NUMBERS: 30-2-6 – the Bruins record this season when they score first against opponents, which again portended very good things in their big Game 1 win over Toronto.
QUOTE TO NOTE: “We know we can play winning hockey in the third period. You’ve got to go out there and do it, but we’re comfortable in those games and we did it in the third.” –Bruce Cassidy, on the B’s ability to finish off the Leafs with a strong third period after holding a 3-1 lead.