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Leafs big guns outdo Bruins in Game 3 victory

April 16, 2019, 12:40 PM ET [1717 Comments]
Mike Augello
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The Toronto Maple Leafs bounced back from a bad loss in Boston with a 3-2 victory in Game 3 of their best-of-seven series at Scotiabank Arena on Monday. After the Bruins succeeded in dictating a more physical style at TD Garden on Saturday, the Leafs stepped up their energy and effort on home ice, out hitting Boston 42-33, shutting out the top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak and preserving a one-goal lead throughout the third period thanks to another stellar performance from Frederik Andersen and some late-game heroics from Mitch Marner.

The Leafs took the lead in the series with contributions from the fourth line and power play, as Trevor Moore, Auston Matthews and Andreas Johnsson scored in the second period for Toronto. Andersen made 34 saves for the victory, including an unusual poke check with the butt end of his stick on David Krejci in the third period.

“That was a team win.” Zach Hyman said after the game. ”It’s tight, physical, playoff hockey. You can script what playoff hockey is – it’s that. No room, but those are the games you want to be part of, especially when Freddie makes a big save at the end to really seal the win there. That’s huge for us.”

The absence of Nazem Kadri forced the Leafs to make changes in the lineup that ended up benefiting them in Game 3. Tyler Ennis was inserted on the fourth line and his steal of the puck led to Moore’s opening goal. Andreas Johnsson replaced Kadri on the top power-play unit and the speedy winger set up Matthews for his power-play goal and scored the game-winner late in the middle frame.

Another key was the Leafs having last change at home and Babcock being able to match Hyman, John Tavares and Mitch Marner against Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. The Bruins top line was held off the scoresheet for the first time in the series and head coach Bruce Cassidy indicated during a TV timeout during the NBCSN broadcast that he was looking to shake the Bergeron line loose from the Leafs top unit.

“The priority against (the Bergeron line) is to play real good players (against them). That's what we're doing as a five-man unit and you do everything you can to at least go 50 percent in the faceoff circle, so they don't have the puck all the time.” Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said after the game. “(With) John (Tavares) here now, we’ve got a veteran guy, he's been around a while and he's gotten better and better and better defensively this year and it shows.”

Boston pressed for the tying goal late in third, but the Leafs defense stiffened in front of Andersen and prevented any great scoring chances. Marner’s heroics were particularly noteworthy, as he blocked a pair of Pastrnak shots in the waning seconds of regulation.

“That's what you've got to do to win. All those things are contagious. When you see your teammate do something like that, you're more likely to do it yourself.” Babcock said. “That's just laying it on the line when you need to and it makes everyone else around you better.”

The only weak link on Monday was the performance of the third line centered by William Nylander. Matthews and Tavares played nearly 20 minutes on the night, but Nylander was limited to 13:31 along with linemates Patrick Marleau and Connor Brown.

At practice on Tuesday, both Nylander and Marleau took turns playing up the middle, which could signal a possible change for Game 4 on Wednesday.


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