The Maple Leafs limped into the playoffs with a 4-7-3 record to round out the season and rob any chance of Game 1 of their long anticipated series against Boston being played in Toronto. In the end though, it didn’t matter. After working through some late season injuries, the Maple Leafs had all hands on deck and combined they delivered a 4-1 victory over Boston.
While this game certainly wasn’t a blowout by any stretch of the imagination, it was close to the ideal scenario for the Maple Leafs. Most importantly, goaltender Frederik Andersen was great. There were some concerns about fatigue with him late in the season and he didn’t look good in the 2018 series against Boston, but this game would have been very different if he was just okay.
The only time Andersen was beat Thursday night was on a superb power-play goal from Brad Marchand to Patrice Bergeron. That marker gave the Bruins a 1-0 lead and had the potential to set the tone, but Mitchell Marner changed the story.
Marner evened the contest before the first period ended and provided the turning point when he got on a breakaway while the Maple Leafs were shorthanded. He drew a penalty shot that led to Toronto’s game-winning goal.
That narrow 2-1 edge stuck for most of the second period until William Nylander provided Toronto with some much needed breathing room, thanks in part to a laser pass from Nazem Kadri.
Can we talk about this pass for just a minute?
Whoa.#TORvsBOS here: https://t.co/TlBG0byxCy pic.twitter.com/9eHXe9XfwS
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 12, 2019
Boston ended up out shooting Toronto 21-14 in the second period alone, but the Maple Leafs scored the only two goals in that frame. That 3-1 lead would stick until John Tavares finished Boston off with an empty netter.
The Maple Leafs now have something they never possessed in the 2018 series against the Bruins: The lead. In 2018, the Bruins won the first two games in Boston and while Toronto battled back to force a Game 7, the Maple Leafs never possessed the series lead. Now we’ll see if Toronto can build on its early success or if Boston will come right back in Game 2. Certainly, Boston is too good of a team to be dismissed after just one loss.
Maple Leafs-Bruins Game 2 from TD Garden will be Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. ET on NBC
Ryan Dadoun is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @RyanDadoun.