Game 5 takeaways: Woll, Domi, Knies keep the Maple Leafs alive

Photo credit:Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Arun Srinivasan
1 month ago
Matthew Knies scored 2:26 into the first overtime period as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Boston Bruins 2-1 in Game 5 to fend off elimination.
John Tavares drove the puck hard to the net and Knies collected the rebound for the game-winner as the series heads back to Scotiabank Arena on Thursday.
Here are three takeaways from the Maple Leafs’ 2-1 win over the Bruins.
Matthew Knies saved the season and played his best game of the series 
Before Knies scored the game-winner, he was in the midst of his best game of the series. Knies made a subtle defensive zone clearance in the first period, stealing the puck off David Pastrnak, bailing out his linemate, John Tavares, from a prior turnover. It was easily his best defensive game of the series, he was engaged on the forecheck and constantly put pressure on the Bruins’ defenders. He was whipping threatening lateral passes across the goalmouth and contributed to Toronto’s most inspired effort of the series.
Pastrnak would later go after Morgan Rielly in a late-second period scrum and Knies challenged Boston’s superstar to a fight and took particular delight when he backed down. Knies had almost jammed the puck in and after the whistle blew, chaos ensued in front of the net. It was exactly the type of performance you want to see from a modern power forward.
Knies-Tavares-William Nylander outshot their opponents 10-5 at 5-on-5 with a 77 percent share of the expected goals via Natural Stat Trick. You could make a strong argument that the rookie forward outplayed his star linemates. David Pastrnak was Knies’ primary defender and Toronto’s winger outplayed him with the season on the line. It was a terrific all-around performance from Knies, punctuated by a season-saving goal in a ferocious road environment.
“You black out a little bit. I was just so excited and so happy,” Knies said post-game via The Athletic’s Jonas Siegel. “I think what brought me more joy was to see the faces of my teammates and how much they wanted to keep playing and keep moving on.”
Joseph Woll was the Maple Leafs’ best player and has earned a Game 6 start
Joseph Woll was brought off the bench to start for the Maple Leafs in the most important game of the past eight years. Woll delivered with arguably the best game of his professional career, saving 1.6 goals above expected per Natural Stat Trick. You don’t need the stat sheet tonight to quantify his impact, however, you merely need a novice’s understanding of the game.
Woll was tested early with a good shot off the rush from Jesper Boqvist and then all hell broke loose. Simon Benoit coughed up the puck on a brutal turnover and his ill-advised pass hit Pat Maroon’s skate, ricocheting right into Trent Frederic’s path. Frederic tucked the puck past Woll in a high-danger area and it was 1-0 Bruins. It had all the makings of your quintessential Maple Leafs meltdown but Woll was unflappable, making eight-danger saves with everything to play for. Woll, for the record, got the better of Frederic on a game-preserving pad save in the third period.
It’s unclear at the time of this filing who will be the Game 6 starter but it appears that Woll has snatched the crease back from Ilya Samsonov.
Max Domi excelled in Auston Matthews’ absence 
Auston Matthews was ruled out of Game 5 due to a lingering illness, so Max Domi was asked to replicate No. 34’s all-around impact on the top line. Domi centred Tyler Bertuzzi and Mitch Marner and put together a clinic in the faceoff dot, winning his first 10 draws and finishing with a 85.7 percent success rate on the night. That’s not bad at all for a natural winger asked to fill in for a 69-goal scorer in a pressure cooker environment.
Domi’s playmaking was outstanding from the get-go and he looked to find shooting lanes for Marner all evening, while throwing the puck at the net to generate rebounds for Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi was unlucky not to bury a goal or two while pushing way to the net-front throughout the contest. He had several odd-man rushes broken up due to his pass-first mentality, which was frustrating, but he was a monstrous offensive presence and it’s unlucky that he only finished with the primary assist on Jake McCabe’s game-tying goal.
Toronto outshot Boston 14-4 during Domi’s 5-on-5 minutes and he finished with a team-high 74.4 percent share of the expected goals. Ahead of tonight’s game, I was concerned that Domi’s poor defensive awareness at centre may be a liability for this Maple Leafs team, especially when matched up against the Brad Marchand line. Domi submitted an outstanding all-around performance, it was certainly his best defensive showing in a Maple Leafs uniform and it’s exactly what the team will need to see, even if he shifts back to the wing on a line with Bertuzzi and Matthews for Game 6.

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