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Three posts and a goal line clear: Maple Leafs fall 4-1 to Bruins and drop season series

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Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
1 month ago
After an entertaining 4-3 shootout win against the New York Rangers on Saturday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs continued their five-game homestand looking to keep things rolling last night as they hosted another original six team, the Boston Bruins, for the third meeting of the season.

First period:

For the first time since early December, the Maple Leafs and Bruins battled it out on the ice as Toronto is slowly catching up to them in the standings with a couple of games in hand. Similarly to Saturday’s matchup against the Rangers, Scotiabank Arena hosted another original six tilt with two very passionate fan bases in attendance, so we were in store for another good game, or so I thought. The game didn’t start quite how Toronto had hoped for, though. Not even 20 seconds after the puck dropped, Joseph Woll had to be tested with an early breakaway chance from the Bruins. He made the save, keeping it a tie game.
Toronto found their feet and started to take over the next five minutes. They had had pace to their game during this mini stretch. When they entered the Bruins’ zone, they passed the puck around and generated scoring chances, looking like they were going to open the scoring first. Unfortunately, the Bruins weathered the storm but had to kill a penalty after Kevin Shattenkirk was whistled for high sticking.
If you got to your couch a little late and tuned in as the puck dropped after Shattenkirk’s penalty, you probably thought Boston was the team on the power play, given how long they had the puck for and the scoring chances they created. Toronto struggled on their power play, generating nothing on the man advantage and wasted an opportunity. The Bruins killed it off, and it was evident they swung the momentum in their favour. After weathering the storm from the home team early and killing off a penalty, Boston opened the scoring just before the midway point of the period from Morgan Geekie’s 14th of the season that barely got over Joseph Woll’s glove.
Things didn’t get better for the Maple Leafs when the Bruins continued to apply pressure on them, and Jake McCabe getting sent to the penalty box for slashing solidified that. With roughly eight minutes to go, Pavel Zacha sniped his 13th of the season past Woll, doubling his team’s lead.
Toronto eventually started to look like a better hockey team for the remainder of the period, but the chances they did generate on Jeremy Swayman weren’t good enough. He turned aside everything they threw at him, keeping them off the scoreboard.
Toronto entered the first intermission down 2-0, getting outshot 13-10.

Second period:

It was a good start from the home team in the first period, but an eight-ish minute stretch from the Bruins turned the game upside down quickly for the Maple Leafs, putting them in a two-goal hole after one. Toronto began the second frame on the power play after the Bruins were called for another high-sticking penalty. And, like their first power play, they struggled to gain the zone, with the Bruins being aggressive at their blue line. After the power play expired, Toronto started to look better, but it was the same story as the first period: Jeremy Swayman was stopping everything.
The Maple Leafs needed to score the next goal to avoid going down three goals. Their chances continued, but Swayman was there with every answer, allowing his team to keep their two-goal lead. Unfortunately, their two-goal lead quickly grew to a three-goal advantage off a Jake DeBrusk snipe for his 14th of the season. Up to this point in the game, Toronto didn’t deserve to be down three goals. They looked like the better team in the second period, but that stretch in the opening period hurt them.
Down 3-0, the home side got their third power play of the night, looking to chip away at Boston’s lead. Their third-man advantage looked better than the first two. They came close to scoring, but Brandon Carlo cleared an Auston Matthews shot off the goal line, further adding to the frustration through two periods.
Toronto entered the second intermission down 3-0, outshooting Boston 23-20.

Third period:

Entering the final period without a goal to show, the Toronto Maple Leafs were 20 minutes away from being shut out for the first time since November 2021 (200+ game stretch). I understand keeping the streak alive isn’t that important, and the win is, but it all starts with one, especially when you’re down three goals.
Less than four minutes into the third period, the third line, arguably Toronto’s best line against Boston, got on the board from a John Tavares shot that beat Swayman over his shoulder for his 19th of the season.
With a quick goal within the first five minutes of the third frame, scoring two goals in the final 16 minutes didn’t seem impossible, given they’ve done that many times this season. The only problem: Jeremy Swayman is one damn good goaltender.
The next couple of shifts following Tavares’ tally were good from Toronto. The top line of Knies, Matthews, and Marner almost got in on the action with a goal of their own, but a deflection from Knies just went wide of the far post, keeping the score 3-1. The chances continued, but one mistake from the Maple Leafs gave the puck right back to the Bruins, and they were off to the races with numbers. A breakdown in the defensive zone helped Boston restore their three-goal lead, as Pavel Zacha scored his second of the game – 15th of the season – making it a 4-1 game again.
After that goal, you felt the energy in Scotiabank Arena start to deflate, and the comeback – if there was ever one – was quickly stopped as Toronto dropped their third game to the Bruins this season. With last night’s loss, Toronto is now 6-8-2 against Atlantic division teams, with Buffalo, Boston, and Montreal next on their schedule. It should be fun!

Who stood out:

It’ll be quicker if I said who didn’t look good in last night’s 4-1 loss to the Bruins.
The line of Bertuzzi, Domi, and Nylander and the pairing of Brodie and Liljegren were not good enough last night.
The second line brings all offence and no defence, but they tend to spend a little too much time in the defensive zone, and that continued last night, getting hemmed in a handful of times. The pairing of Brodie and Liljegren, which had been great in the absence of Morgan Rielly, had a rough, and I mean rough, game last night.
According to Moneypuck.com, they played a total of 12:57 together at five-on-five, got outscored 2-0, lost the shot attempt battle 14-8, got outshot 11-6, and generated a measly 0.29 xGF, compared to an xGA of 1.03.
After debuting against the Rangers, the third line of Bobby McMann, John Tavares, and Calle Jarnkrok was, again, one of Toronto’s better lines last night, and Keefe played them a lot. They stand out because they scored Toronto’s only goal, but even before Tavares scored, they looked solid but not as good as their last game.
Special teams remain a problem. Toronto went 0-for-4 on the power play last night and 1-for-2 on the penalty kill, further hurting their poor penalty kill this season, which ranks in the bottom 12 of the league, generating a 77.7%.
After an unsustainable clip, Toronto’s power play has gone 0-for-9 over their last four games, including 0-for-7 in their previous two games.
You can catch the Toronto Maple Leafs’ next game on Wednesday night when they close out their five-game homestand against the Buffalo Sabres. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00 pm ET/4:00 pm PT.

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