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Nylander makes stamp on series with two-goal night, Maple Leafs defeat Bruins 2-1 and force Game 7

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Photo credit:© Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
1 month ago
They staved off elimination on the road in Game 5, coming away with the 2-1 overtime win, and last night, they returned home and entered Scotiabank Arena, having to replicate the same effort and desperation in Game 6 if they wanted to head back to Boston for Game 7.

First period:

For the third time between these two teams since 2013 and the second time in the Matthews, Marner, Nylander era, the Toronto Maple Leafs saw themselves in a 3-1 series hole. After coming away with the road win in overtime on Tuesday night, the Maple Leafs travelled back home for Game 6 with a chance to force Game 7 and put some doubt in the Bruins’ heads. Similar to Game 5 in Boston, Toronto came out flying, looking like the better team on the ice early on, but Jeremy Swayman, who made his fourth consecutive start, was on the top of his game. Joseph Woll was on the opposite end of the ice for Toronto, making his second straight start in this series and fourth career start in the playoffs.
There were a couple of narratives coming into the game last night, and one of them was the fact Toronto had lost six straight games on home ice in the playoffs dating back to Game 2 of the first round last year against the Tampa Bay Lightning. So it was evident that if they had any intentions of winning this series, they had to break this streak and finally win a game on home ice to force another game in Boston. Their effort in the first 20 minutes was there, and the fans in attendance and watching at home had nothing to complain about, especially given the Maple Leafs limited the Bruins to just one shot on the net, which came on the penalty kill after Boston had to kill off a penalty that Brad Marchand took. Despite a two-minute power play for the home team, they couldn’t get on the board in the first period after heavily outshooting Boston and controlling the play for the bulk of the frame.
Toronto entered the first intermission tied 0-0 despite outshooting Boston 12-1.

Second period:

The Maple Leafs began the second period last night the same way they started the previous five periods dating back to the beginning of Game 5, tied up. With their backs against the wall, Maple Leafs’ fans were most likely on the edge of their seats for the entire game last night because it was such a tight contest between both sides.
Although the home team outshot the road team 12-1 in the first period, the score was tied 0-0, and that easily could’ve frustrated the Maple Leafs, but they didn’t let it get to them. Their chances were there. They spent time in the Bruins’ zone, forcing them to defend more than they would’ve liked. But after holding Boston to just one shot in the first 20 minutes, a push from them was to be expected, just like their response in the second period in Game 5 following their two-shot effort in the first period in that game.
Things couldn’t have started any better for this Toronto team. They outplayed Boston in the prior frame, and just 1:10 into the middle period, they were headed back to the man advantage after David Pastrnak was whistled for a double minor for high-sticking Tyler Bertuzzi, giving Toronto a chance to break through with a power play goal or two. Somehow, the Maple Leafs managed fewer shots with four minutes of power play time compared to the two minutes they had in the opening frame. Toronto was 0-for-3 on the man advantage a little over 25 minutes into the game, putting them 1-for-20 on the power play this series.
After watching their power play generate nothing, there might’ve been a little bit of doubt creeping in. They had three power play opportunities already, and they threw them away. What if that came back to bite them? It was a possibility, and after successfully killing off Pastrnak’s double minor, the push from the Bruins was in full effect for the remaining 10-plus minutes. Despite facing just one single shot in the first, Joseph Woll didn’t see another shot from the Bruins until the eight-minute mark of the middle period. Toronto held Boston to just two shots through 28 minutes, yet the game remained tied. But the lack of action didn’t faze Woll. He was up to the task for the remainder of the period, turning aside the next 11 shots Boston threw at him, keeping them off the scoreboard.
With less than a minute to go in the period, the Maple Leafs forced the Bruins into icing the puck, allowing Sheldon Keefe to throw the Tavares line over the boards for an offensive zone face-off. Off the ensuing face-off win, William Nylander picked up the loose puck and went to work. He worked his magic with his skating ability to get around John Beecher in the offensive zone. Once he got positioning on the defending player, Nylander threw the puck toward the net, and it took a fortunate bounce off Charlie McAvoy’s knee and got past Swayman for the 1-0 lead, getting the entire arena up on their feet.
Despite the expected push from Boston in the middle frame after another abysmal first period, Toronto weathered their mini storm, stuck to their structure, and were rewarded with a goal with under a minute to go before heading into the intermission.
Toronto entered the second intermission up 1-0 and outshooting Boston 20-13.

Third period:

With a late goal in the second period, the Maple Leafs were now 20 minutes away from forcing a game 7 in Boston. But the game was still tight. Only one goal separated the Maple Leafs and the Bruins, and the hope was the late goal from Nylander would give Toronto some jump to begin the third period. It was safe to say Toronto stuck to their game plan, and rightfully so. Boston was the more desperate team in the final period, throwing everything they could toward the net, looking for a fortunate bounce or a rebound for a scoring chance. But the Maple Leafs did a fantastic job collapsing in front of the net, making it hard for the Bruins to get second-chance opportunities.
There were times Joseph Woll had to come up big for his team if Boston was close to the net, but the 25-year-old stayed calm, cooled, and collected and was up to the challenge. There was a mini flurry from the Bruins in this period where Woll had to come up huge, with the score still 1-0, following a missed partial breakaway chance for John Tavares. Max Domi even found himself all alone a couple of shifts after but shot it right at Swayman, who made the easy stop.
Luckily, after two chances from Tavares and Domi all alone on Swayman earlier, Matthew Knies continued his stellar play by taking a hit to make a play by the benches as he set up Nylander for a breakaway opportunity with a little over two minutes to go in regulation. With a goal at the end of the second period, Nylander got in all alone on Swayman, pulled off a forehand, backhand move, and beat the Bruins’ netminder five-hole for his second of the night, giving his team the 2-0 lead with time winding down.
After giving his team some breathing room with his second tally, the Maple Leafs closed the game nicely. The Bruins pulled their goalie for the extra attacker, and Toronto almost came close to making it a 3-0 game but slightly missed the empty net from distance. As time winded down, Boston ran out of time to come back, but they found a way to break Joseph Woll’s shutout with 0.01 seconds left on the clock as Morgan Geekie narrowly beat the buzzer to make it a 2-1 game.

Who stood out:

What an overall effort from the Toronto Maple Leafs last night to force Game 7. With their backs against the wall for two consecutive games, the Maple Leafs come out on top in another narrow 2-1 win, forcing Game 7 back in Boston on Saturday night with a chance to not only stave off elimination but advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Like in Game 5, it was another tremendous performance from Joseph Woll, who stopped 22 of 23 shots in the win. Although his play was maybe spoiled with a late tally from Boston with 0.01 seconds left on the clock, his night was fantastic from start to finish and was one of the key factors in last night’s win.
Another big-time player from last night was Mr. William Nylander, who scored twice, ending his 13-game goal drought dating back to the regular season and leading his team to the all-important win with his best game of the series so far.
He may have only recorded one assist, but that is two consecutive games that Matthew Knies has looked dominant. Despite being just 21 years old, Knies has looked like a 10-year veteran in these last two games and was a massive contributor in all three zones in Toronto’s wins in Games 5 and 6.
You can catch Game 7 of the Toronto Maple Leafs – Boston Bruins first-round series on Saturday night from TD Garden when the series shifts back to Boston. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 pm ET/4:30 pm PT.

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