Game 5 on Saturday night was a chance for the Bruins to clinch their first-round series with the Maple Leafs with a decisive 4-1 outcome in front of a rowdy 17,565 at TD Garden. Yet, they found themselves in a 4-1 deficit following James van Riemsdyk’s power-play tally at 11:55 of the second period — a goal that ended Tuukka Rask’s night and made way for Anton Khudobin’s first career postseason appearance.
“That was a tough game, you know,” David Pastrnak said postgame. “We kind of let them on the board early, and they’ve been better in the first period than us and I think that cost us at the end.”
The Leafs, despite being outshot 15-6, were better in the first period. But the Bruins had better chances throughout the night.
As those chances piled up, social media references to a certain 4-1 comeback in Game 7 got the topic trending on Facebook and Twitter. So, the Bruins had the Leafs right where they wanted them, right?
It almost happened — again — when fourth liners Sean Kuraly (at 17:18 of the second) and Noel Acciari (5:56 of the third) put the Bruins within striking distance. The ice tilted in Boston’s favor, and it seemed that nothing was going to stop them from coming back again from 4-1 down.
But it wasn’t meant to be, at least in theory. Frederik Andersen stood on his head again with some spectacular stops en route to a 42-save outing, including a sprawling pad stop on Pastrnak to keep the one-goal lead intact.
Andersen’s outing wasn’t the only thing that haunted the Bruins. They also haunted themselves by wasting golden opportunities to tie things up.
Opportunites that included Rick Nash firing a backhander just wide and a 1-for-6 showing on the power play, highlighted by a 5-on-3 chance for 1:34 that went for naught with Tyler Bozak and Roman Polak in the box.
“I thought we had a lot of chances and threw a lot of pucks at the net and tried to pick up the garbage,” Matt Grzelcyk said after notching a beautiful assist — the first of his playoff career — on Kuraly’s second of the series. “But it just wouldn’t go in on a few plays, and they were able to capitalize on similar chances…we just need to be better to defend next game.”
“You got to give their goaltender credit,” Bruce Cassidy said after seeing his team fire 40-plus shots on Andersen for the second time this series, both of which have resulted in losses.
“He made a lot of good saves. The goals we got weren’t cheap — maybe the last one he lost track of, but we were around their net a lot. They got out to the early lead. It’s always easier to play with the lead. I wouldn’t say it wasn’t meant to be; I thought we were very close. I mean, Pasta [Pastrnak] had a rebound there that he made a hell of a save on, could’ve made it 4-4. Then obviously from there, it’s anybody’s game. So, we pushed back…just give him credit. He made saves.”
The final score in this one: Maple Leafs 4, Bruins 3. The B’s next game: Monday night in Toronto — their second attempt to get that elusive and difficult fourth win of the series.
“Probably could’ve stopped more pucks with my eyes closed. That’s about it,” Rask said about his missed chance to stymie the Leafs for a second straight game. “It’s on me, but [we’re] moving on to the next one and we’ll finish it out in Toronto.”
Pretty confident for a goalie who exited stage right for the first time in his playoff career.
The Bruins, themselves, feel confident, despite the slow start and missed chance at a 4-1 comeback — and they should be.
“We still have a lot of confidence. I think the momentum is still on our side right now, even though they won,” Tim Schaller, who tallied an assist on Acciari’s 4-3 tally, assessed. “We had a good push back, and we’re going to take that push back and hopefully have a good first five minutes up there in Toronto and go from there.”
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