The Bruins knew they could seal the deal once again tonight with a victory against the Maple Leafs, but failed to show up for the third period for the second game in a row. With a careless mistake the Leafs took control and skated away with it, tying the series 3-3 with a shutout 2-1 victory.
Through the first twenty minutes the Bruins played a fairly solid and sound game. They weren’t overly physical, but used their strengths well. They were able to get the puck in deep and generate some cycling plays to create the opportunities. Their biggest asset came from stronger puck management in the neutral zone, keeping the turnovers at a minimum. Both teams showed they knew what the stakes were as they battled it out for the first twenty. The focus for the second, pushing their momentum to the next level and upping the intensity. They needed to execute their plays better and ensure their shots on net.
“I thought we worked pretty hard, it’s a battle out there. They’re playing hard, we’re playing hard, it’s a game of inches. We’re trying to put our best foot forward, trying to get the pucks in deep. In saying that, it’s important to get them in the right area. You don’t want to just get it to the goalie…Everybody has to do things that you aren’t necessarily comfortable with and that’s what you have to do to win.” – Gregory Campbell during intermission
Through forty, the score remained the same. The Leafs upped the physicality and the Bruins brought the intensity to really get the ball rolling. Tyler Seguin had one of the best opportunities with Bergeron of the period, Bergeron tried the wrap-around and again with a couple of shots to really get things going. They have continued to get the puck in deep and use their fore-checking, but goaltending has been solid for both teams. James Reimer is showing why Toronto opted out on Luongo and has certainly upped his game since the beginning of the series, the size of the net literally being nonexistent through two. David Krejci just barely missed the net as well with a slow drag that sent Reimer sprawling and Tuukka robbed Dion Phaneuf in the closing second. Heading into the third period, the Bruins needed to come out focused and ready to find a way to get on the scoreboard first and build from that. They needed to bring their best efforts and keep the turnovers at a minimum and maintain their offensive zone pressure.
“It’s about finding the puck and keeping it, it’s about forcing plays and not causing the turnovers. We have to be aware they’re keeping guys high, [we’ve] got to be sure we’re not forcing pucks into center ice and playing their game. [We’ve] got to play our style of hockey and stay in their zone.” – Patrice Bergeron during second intermission
As David Krejci dropped a pass back intended for Milan Lucic, Dion Phaneuf took the puck and ran with it, sending an up-ice pass to Nazim Kadri who ripped a blast past Tuukka for a 1-0 lead just two minutes into the third period. Through the first five minutes the Leafs owned and contained the play, making the Bruins look old and tired. They needed to up the physicality and put their best foot forward if they stood a chance at tying the game and attempt to pull ahead. Unfortunately, as the period went on their understanding of how to play the game and what was at stake seemed to fade. Just before the halfway mark the Leafs fired a shot from the blue line and the Bruins couldn’t find the puck to clear it. A whirling Phil Kessel came in the crease, scooped it up and potted it behind Rask with finesse and ease, adding some insurance for the Leafs and the fans at Air Canada Centre. “Thank you Seguin” chants reverberated off of the walls of the arena and surrounded the players as they drudged on. Of course in the final three minutes the Bruins decided to bring out their physical aspect realizing the severity of their lackluster moves through the first fifteen minutes, once again showing up late to the show. Milan Lucic jammed in a Jaromir Jagr rebound with 25.5 seconds to go, but still remained down a goal. 20 seconds remaining they kept the pressure going, but came up empty-handed. In forcing game 7 to go back to the TD Garden, the Bruins now look at what could be their last game of the season. Be sure to tune in tomorrow night at 7 on NESN to see who stays alive and who will be hitting the golf course.