Knies scores overtime winner as Maple Leafs defeat Bruins 2-1 and force Game 6

Photo credit:© Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
1 month ago
After two miserable results in Game 3 and 4 in front of their home fans at Scotiabank Arena, the Toronto Maple Leafs travelled to Boston last night with their backs against the wall, facing elimination inside TD Garden for Game 5, looking to keep their season alive.

First period:

Game 4 might’ve been the worst game from the Maple Leafs thus far, and it put them in a hole down 3-1 in the series heading back to Boston last night. If they won, it’s an entirely different series going back to TD Garden tied. But the Maple Leafs’ losing streak at home extended to six games, and last night, the road team had to play their best game of the series if they wanted to force Game 6. Fortunately, Toronto came out flying. They were by far the better team, which was a given due to the desperation of every player on that roster, and roughly five minutes into the frame, off an offensive zone face-off, Toronto got on the board first with a blast from Jake McCabe from the point.
Max Domi, who was electric in the face-off dot last night (85%), won the draw to Mitch Marner, and he dropped it to McCabe, who wired his first career playoff goal past Swayman for the all-important 1-0 lead 5:33 into the game. After going pointless in the first two games of the series, Marner has picked up a point in three consecutive games after his primary assist on McCabe’s tally. Even after scoring first, the Maple Leafs didn’t take their foot off the gas. They were stringing together positive shifts in the Bruins’ zone, testing Swayman, but nothing too crazy, and the Boston netminder was up to the task, reading everything.
According to Naturalstattrick.com, Toronto had more shots (11-2), scoring chances (9-2), and generated an xGF of 0.89 in all situations in the first period but only managed one high danger chance, the same as the Bruins. Unfortunately, Boston’s only high-danger chance in this period ended up in the back of the net after an unlucky bounce off a Bruins skate ended up in front of the net for Trent Frederic following a clearing attempt from Simon Benoit with roughly six minutes to go.
You’d like a save from Woll, but he was not expecting Fredrric to be alone in that spot after the puck was nowhere near there seconds prior. It stung because that was the second shot he had faced up to this point and the last shot he would face in the first period after Toronto limited Boston for the remainder of the opening period.
Toronto entered the first intermission tied 1-1 despite outshooting Boston 11-2.

Second period:

The first was probably Toronto’s best period of the series thus far, and they finished the 20 minutes how they began it, tied up. It was unfortunate that was the result because the Maple Leafs did a phenomenal job at limiting the Bruins’ chances. They didn’t spend much time, if at all, in their zone, which was a positive sign. The only other downside to the opening frame was Toronto’s power play, which went 0-for-1. But despite only one penalty being called in the first period, the first penalty of the middle frame happened right away, 28 seconds in, when William Nylander was whistled for tripping Charlie McAvoy near the net. Luckily, with Toronto’s penalty kill, along with their power play, being a topic of conversation this series, they kept Boston off the scoreboard, and seconds following Nylander exiting the box, Pat Maroon was sent to the box for a blatant interference penalty, sending Toronto to their second man advantage.
Like the first period and every other power play opportunity from Toronto this series, they couldn’t score, further giving Toronto fans negative thoughts about the team and their inability to score when a great opportunity presents itself. After being limited to two shots in the first 20 minutes, the Bruins came out and looked like a different team in the middle 20. Boston was held to just one high-danger chance and two scoring chances in the previous period but quickly flipped the script, generating eight scoring chances. They also had more high-danger chances than Toronto (3-2), but both goalies stood on their heads when called upon, keeping the game tied at one throughout the middle period.
There was another power play chance for the Maple Leafs with less than 30 seconds remaining in the period when there was a little scrum near the Bruins net following a glorious look for Toronto on Swayman. Brad Marchand and Charlie Coyle were sent to the box for the Bruins for roughing, along with Joel Edmundson.
Toronto entered the second intermission tied 1-1 and outshooting Boston 22-12.

Third period:

After 40 minutes, Toronto and Boston started the final period of regulation tied at one, and this game started to have the feeling that whoever scored the next goal would win the hockey game. With one team playing last night to advance to the next round and the other playing to keep their season alive to force a Game 6, it had both fan bases on the edge of their seats, as nervous as can be for the final 20 minutes or more.
Although two goals were scored roughly eight minutes apart in the first period, the goalies stole the show in the second period, and that continued into the final period with some great saves from both Woll and Swayman, with neither netminder wanting to be the one who allowed the next goal in the game. Aside from Marchand and Holmberg being sent to the penalty box for offsetting roughing minors, the whistles disappeared for both teams in the third frame, making both sides play five-on-five for 18 minutes. As the clock started to tick down, and the score remained tied at one, we were officially entering next goal wins territory.
The clock winded down, and 60 minutes of regulation was not enough for either team to find a winner, sending this game to overtime.

Overtime period:

Toronto and Boston were headed to overtime for the first time in this series. With the Maple Leafs’ season on the line, it was probably one of the most nerve-racking periods for Toronto fans, knowing they were either one shot away from forcing Game 6 or one shot away from ending their season.
Boston came out buzzing in the overtime period, coming close to ending Toronto’s season twice on chances from Charlie Coyle and Brad Marchand. But Joseph Woll, who was making his third career start in the playoffs, kept his team alive, allowing them an opportunity to attack Jeremy Swayman.
Barely two minutes into overtime, Toronto began their attack in the offensive zone. Ilya Lyubushkin fed John Tavares, who was entering the offensive blue line. The captain collected the puck, beat his defender wide and took the puck to the net. With both Bruins defenders focusing their attention on Tavares, the puck spat out, and Matthew Knies jumped on the loose puck, beating Swayman upstairs for the overtime winner and his second goal of the series, sending this back to Toronto for Game 6.

Who stood out:

When it was announced that Auston Matthews was out of the lineup for Game 5, it was hard to imagine the Maple Leafs coming out on top last night, especially on the road in TD Garden, where it’s tough to beat the home team. But it’s not like Toronto has never won in Boston, especially in the playoffs. They just needed to have their best game of the series, with everyone taking their game to the next level, and that’s what they did.
It starts and ends with Joseph Woll. What a game for the 25-year-old, who doesn’t have much NHL playoff experience. Although he wasn’t tested a ton in the first period, only facing two shots and allowing Trent Frederic to beat him off a crazy bounce, the netminder settled in after limited action in the first 20 minutes and shined in the following 40-plus minutes, saving Toronto’s season a handful of times on some great looks from Boston. He finished the game, stopping 28 of 29 shots, earning his first win of the playoffs, and helping send his team back home with a chance to win Game 6 to force Game 7.
The urgency and desperation from Toronto needed to be there last night, especially after a lifeless performance for much of Game 4. With their backs against the wall, many players had a good, gutsy performance that ultimately won them the game. With no Matthews, Max Domi slotted in as the number one centre, with Mitch Marner bumped up to the top line to play right wing, and they controlled the play when they were out there on the ice.
According to Moneypuck.com, the trio played 11:47 together at five-on-five, outscored the opposition 1-0, won the shot attempt battle 23-13, and outshot them 10-3 while generating an xGF% of 54.0%. It wasn’t a dominating performance from them, but that line got on the board first and had looks throughout the game, including a couple of plays from Domi and Marner electing to pass instead of shoot, which could’ve had a different result.
You can catch Game 6 of the Toronto Maple Leafs – Boston Bruins first-round series on Thursday night when the series shifts back to Toronto. Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00 pm ET/5:00 pm PT.

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