Game 5 Thoughts: Clutch and Complete Leafs Win In Boston

Going back to Boston after dropping Wednesday’s Game 4 at home could have gone one of two ways for the Leafs. They could have walked out of Boston down 3-2 in their first-round series, staring down elimination and hoping to force a 7th game, or they could have left the Boston Bruins on the brink as the series heads back to Toronto.

Tonight, the Leafs proved that they’re good enough to push the Bruins to the brink. And here they are, after a clutch 2-1 victory, up 3-2 and heading back home for a 3pm date with the Bruins on Sunday afternoon, where they’ll look to slay the dragon for good.

Let’s have a look at how things went down.

The Goals

Let’s do things a little differently, and fast forward to the magic the Leafs conjured up in the final frame of this game.

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New dad Jake Muzzin used his Dad Strength to find Auston Matthews with the cross-ice pass, and Matthews made no mistake, ripping his fourth goal of the series home to put the Leafs up 2-1.

The play would be reviewed for goaltender interference, as Zach Hyman had bumped into Tuukka Rask as the pass was being made, but the goal was determined to be a good one, and the Leafs – finally, 51:33 into the game, had the ice-breaker. 1-0 good guys.

Just 2:12 later, the Leafs rushed up the ice on a 3-on-2, and who answered the door but…

KASPERI KAPANEN! THAT’S KAPPY, and that’s a 2-0 lead for the Leafs with just 6:15 to go in the game.

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The Endgame

Frederik Andersen remained stellar through the remainder of the game, with this incredible save off of Ryan Johansson one of the many difference-makers from the Great Dane late in the contest.

David Krejci would add a goal with just 44 seconds to go, but it wouldn’t be enough for the Bruins to mount a comeback. The Leafs capitalized late, weathered the storm, and marched triumphantly out of the TD Garden with a 3-2 series lead.

Who wore the Crown?

After every Leaf game, we’re recognizing one Leaf player who best exemplified what it means to play hockey the “Toronto Way”: with heart and soul, above all else. Who wore the Crown is brought to you by Crown Royal, passionate fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Tonight’s crown goes to Auston Matthews, though the entire team arguably deserves accolades for showing up, maintaining pressure, and pulling through with an incredible performance and, ultimately, a telling win.

Matthews, however, has faced tremendous pressure to perform in these playoffs, and has shown up decisively, with 4 goals and 5 points through five games played.

Honorable mention goes to Kasperi Kapanen, for showing up and netting the clutch game-winner, and Frederik Andersen, for standing on his head and being the steady netminder the Leafs need.

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stats courtesy of corsica

Shots were 29-27 Boston by the time all was said and done, but the Leafs won the possession battle tonight, 52.38% to 47.62%.

The Bruins had the slight advantage in expected goals, as a result of a couple of solid chances that just never came to fruition. At the end of the night, the Leafs managed to capitalize when it mattered, and the Bruins did not. And that’s all you can ask.

Looking Ahead

The Leafs can put this series away and move on to face the Columbus Blue Jackets with a win on Sunday afternoon at Scotiabank Arena.

The Buds are All Day – let’s put the Bruins away.

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