Struggles against Boston continue as the Maple Leafs fall 4-1 to the Bruins

Photo credit:Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
1 month ago
Last night, for the fourth and final time this regular season, the Toronto Maple Leafs took on the Boston Bruins on the second night of a back-to-back, looking to erase Monday night’s result and their lengthy six-game losing streak to their original six rivals that date back to last season.

First period:

For a team looking to grab their first win of the season against Boston, the game did not start well for Toronto.
Less than four minutes into the contest, Jake McCabe took a cross-checking penalty on Jake DeBrusk and proceeded to do the same to Brad Marchand once the whistle blew. A scrum ensued soon after both cross-checks and, in typical NHL referee fashion, called a penalty on Matthew Knies for roughing along with McCabe’s cross-checking, sending Boston to a 5-on-3 power play.
It should’ve been a four-minute penalty for cross-checking, but the referees, who do a tremendous job, grabbed Knies out of the scrum pile and dinged him for a penalty, which gave the Bruins an early 5-on-3 power play.
Toronto almost killed off the entirety of the two penalties, but with roughly 20 seconds left on the man advantage, Jake DeBrusk fed David Pastrnak cross-crease for the one-timer, and he got his team on the board early with his 39th of the season. It took the Maple Leafs quite some time to find their feet in the first period and record their first shot of the game. Similarly to Buffalo on Wednesday night, the Sabres took nearly 15 minutes to record their first shot, but for the Maple Leafs, it took them roughly seven minutes.
They eventually settled into the game after Boston got out to a commanding 8-1 shot advantage, but outside of Pastrnak’s goal, no more scoring happened the rest of the period. Unfortunately, there was an injury that took place. Matthew Knies collided (accidentally on purpose?) with Brad Marchand and had to leave the game.
Toronto entered the first intermission down 1-0 and outshot 9-7.

Second period:

Toward the second half of the period, they found their legs and got better, which carried into the next frame.
Unfortunately, one little mistake from William Nylander at the offensive blue line benefited the Bruins in transition, as Trent Frederic stripped the puck off him and beat Joseph Woll five-hole for the 2-0 lead. Although the Bruins were up 2-0 less than five minutes into the middle frame, Toronto pushed back and outshot the Bruins 6-0 for almost half the period after the Frederic goal. They were awarded their first two power plays of the game after Charlie Coyle was sent to the box for high-sticking and slashing Tyler Bertuzzi.
The first two minutes of the man advantage were brutal. But with roughly a minute to go in the last powerplay, Mitch Marner received a bank pass off the boards from Timothy Liljegren and snapped his 25th of the season past Swayman, cutting into their deficit.
After Marner got on the board, rough stuff ensued between both teams. There were a couple of post-whistle scrums around the net and along the boards, and Toronto’s Tyler Bertuzzi had enough of it. He dropped his gloves with Parker Wotherspoon and spoon-fed him some solid uppercuts. Do you see what I did there?
With Toronto back within one goal and Bertuzzi getting his team amped after dropping the gloves, the vibes were better than when they were down 2-0. Toronto continued to look like the better team once Marner got on the board and came close to tying the game up at two, but for whatever reason, Marner decided not to shoot here.
When Marner didn’t put the puck into the yawning cage, you felt that missed opportunity had a chance to come back and bite Toronto. Well, it did.
In the span of a little over a minute toward the end of the period, Morgan Geekie and Brandon Carlo scored to go up 4-1, and with only 20 minutes left, coming back from a three-goal deficit doesn’t seem impossible, but against the Bruins, it might. Toronto entered the second intermission down 4-1 and outshot 21-19.

Third period:

Entering the final period down three goals, Toronto needed to get on the board relatively quickly. Boston did them a favour and took a penalty 18 seconds into the third period, sending the top unit over the boards for their fourth power play. Unfortunately, the power play struggles continued, and they couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity to cut Boston’s lead in half.
Things got heated again, this time between Max Domi and Brad Marchand. Domi, who was likely sticking up for Matthew Knies, who left the game and never returned, gave Marchand a face wash along the boards and tackled him to the ice, creating another scrum, which sent Boston to their fifth power play. Luckily, the Bruins’ power play didn’t score again on the Maple Leafs’ rough penalty-killing unit, keeping the score 4-1 just before the midway point.
After the successful penalty kill, Toronto didn’t look all that great in an attempt to try and mount a third-period comeback. They had chances, but nothing spectacular that tested Jeremy Swayman that much. As time winded down, things got physical yet again. After wrestling with Brad Marchand earlier in the third period, Max Domi and Charlie McAvoy exchanged some slashes and decided to drop the gloves. The fight, if you want to call it that, didn’t last long, and Domi got the quick takedown.
The clock hit zeros, and Toronto fell 4-1 to Boston again, dropping their seventh consecutive game to the Bruins over the past two seasons, being outscored 26-13.

Who stood out:

It’s well known that the Toronto Maple Leafs are fighting the flu bug right now. They looked sluggish against the Sabres, and for a chunk of the game last night, they looked iffy. Jake McCabe returned to the lineup yesterday after missing the game against the Sabres, and it was evident some others were playing through something.
However, it doesn’t change the fact Toronto has struggled mightily against Boston over the last two seasons, losing seven consecutive games to them (0-2-2 this season). Between their flu bug, the second night of a back-to-back with travel, a rested Boston team, their struggles against Boston, and having their top-line left winger injured in the first period, it was a recipe for disaster against a good Bruins team.
I don’t think any line looked all that great in the loss last night. But once Knies went down, Bertuzzi got some shifts on a line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, and they didn’t look all that bad, to be honest. They only played 5:46 together at five-on-five, so a very small sample size, but they won the shot attempt battle 15-2, outshot the opposition 4-0, and had an xGF% of 93.6, according to Moneypuck.com.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game on Saturday night when they continue on the road to Montreal to take on the Canadiens. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.

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