BOSTON - It was the Bruins' Achilles' heel all season long, perhaps their most glaring flaw.
Despite boasting one of the NHL's most dominant power plays, Boston surrendered a league-leading 15 shorthanded goals. And in Game 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night, that weakness came back to haunt them once more.
With the game tied early in the second period, Mitch Marner drew a penalty shot after a shorthanded break and buried his second goal of the night to put the Maple Leafs ahead and flip the game's momentum. William Nylander added another breakaway tally late in the middle frame and John Tavares sealed it with an empty netter as Toronto took a 1-0 series lead with a 4-1 victory at TD Garden.
"You get a power play, you want to get something good out of it and get some momentum. Obviously that did the opposite," said Patrice Bereron, who opened the scoring - on the power play - at 9:31 of the first period. "I think that we have to do the job on the power play of creating some chances. Obviously you want to score but you can't give them that many chances. I mean, there was the penalty shot but there were a few more chances that can't happen."
Overall, Boston struggled mightily with the Maple Leafs' speed and compounded that with a lack of puck management that led to a bevy of Toronto chances off the rush. Nylander's goal with 1:35 left in the second that put the Leafs ahead, 3-1, also came via a breakaway after the winger got behind Connor Clifton and Marcus Johansson, who was covering for a pinching Matt Grzelcyk.
"Absolutely, we did it address it," said Brandon Carlo, who was making his postseason debut. "We just didn't buy into it too much, I guess you could say. We know as defensemen when we shoot pucks their guys are going to start flying the zone. That's something we definitely need to be cautious of throughout the rest of the series because obviously you saw those breakaways."
Video: BOS Recap: Bergeron scores in Game 1 loss
Jake DeBrusk was the one charging back to try to disrupt Marner's shorthanded breakaway and he paid the price. The winger crashed back first into the end boards after tripping up Marner and was slow to get up. DeBrusk briefly retreated to the dressing room, before returning to the ice, but looked to be in some discomfort thereafter.
DeBrusk, who had two shots on goal in 15:19 of ice time, dismissed that notion after the game.
"One hundred percent. I'm feeling all right," said DeBrusk. "It wasn't fun causing the turnover there and then seeing him on the breakaway. I was just trying to get back, trying to make a play, and obviously didn't like the result of that and then he scored.
"I think that was a turning point in the game as well, and something that I needed and something that's going to help me in this series."
Video: Bruins drop game 1 to Toronto
Making Their Debuts
Carlo (21:32), Clifton (11:25), and Karson Kuhlman (13:34) all made their Stanley Cup Playoffs debuts. Cassidy said postgame that there may have been some nerves among the youngsters, especially in the early going.
"Obviously, [three] guys are playing in their first game. [Matt Grzelcyk] and Charlie [McAvoy] haven't been around that long, so there could have been some nerves," said Cassidy. "I think there was clearly for Brandon early. We knew that would happen. That's fine. Play through it. Other guys tried to force it a little bit. Maybe turn down some opportunities to make an easier play, especially in the offensive end of it, offensive blue line."