BOSTON - Before Thursday night's Game 1, Brandon Carlo had never played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And after the game, he nearly felt the same.
The Bruins' lackluster effort in a 4-1 setback to the Toronto Maple Leafs left everyone on the roster wanting more. Which is why Boston ramped up its physicality and focus in Game 2, clearly putting forth a more engaged - and ornery - performance en route to a 4-1 victory of their own to knot the series at one game apiece.
"Felt like it was more so my first playoff game [Saturday] night than the night before just because of the intensity and the way I expected things to go," Carlo, who missed the last two postseason with inuries, said on Sunday afternoon at Warrior Ice Arena. "I think it's a lot of fun to establish that kind of attitude and game style in your own building. I had a lot of fun last night."
Boston out-hit the Maple Leafs, 44-39, in the win, making a concerted effort to be more engaged physically from the outset. David Backes, inserted into the lineup after being a healthy scratch in Game 1, led the way with a game-high seven hits and, along with Danton Heinen, delivered a heavy forecheck that led to Charlie Coyle's tone-setting goal just under five minutes into the game.
"It was really intense. We felt like we needed to play more of that style…both teams want to play hard and play that kind of playoff-style hockey," said Matt Grzelcyk. "That's what you have to expect coming in the playoffs. Guess you have to be ready for whatever's thrown at you"
Video: Carlo readying to play first road playoff game
The Bruins' approach was embraced throughout the lineup with even skills players like David Pastrnak (four hits), David Krejci (three), and Jake DeBrusk (four) getting in on the action, which the sell-out TD Garden clearly appreciated.
"That was a fun game to be a part of last night, that's for sure," said Krejci. "They get loud. I thought our fans yesterday, that was pretty crazy. It was so much fun playing that game last night. I don't expect anything less than that in Toronto. It will be loud, but we've been there before."
That they have. And with the series shifting to enemy territory for Games 3 and 4, the Bruins know they must play a similar style to have success away from the friendly confines of Causeway Street.
"They're really good in their building, too. It's a pretty tough place to play," said Grzelcyk. "If we want to have success the rest of the series, we're gonna have to play more of that style and make plays when they open up. Important to get off to a good start on the road."
Video: Grzelcyk discusses his mindset
Paying the Price
Playing such a physical style does come at a price, however. Boston lost three players to injury during the course of Game 2 with Torey Krug, Connor Clifton, and DeBrusk all leaving the contest.
Krug took a heavy hit from Toronto defenseman Jake Muzzin in the second period, the force of the collision knocking off Krug's helmet and causing him to careen into the boards. Krug struggled to get to his feet and needed assistance getting down the tunnel.
"Krug came in doing better, day to day," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. "See if he gets on the ice tomorrow"
Clifton left in the third period and is also considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Should both players be out of the lineup for Game 3 on Monday night, Cassidy would turn to some combination of Steven Kampfer, John Moore, and Jakub Zboril to fill their spots.
Zboril was recalled from Providence on Sunday as a precaution, while Moore - recovering from an upper-body injury - once again skated on his own Sunday morning.
It appears that Moore and Sean Kuraly are both closing in on a return to game action, though they remain unlikely to suit up for Game 3. Kuraly, who fractured his hand blocking a shot in mid-March, has skated with a stick for the last couple of days.
"Progressing well," said Cassidy. "Until they're with the team, it's hard to say they'd go in the lineup. That's typically the protocol in season. Obviously this time of the year, may have to skip a step. I don't think we'll see them tomorrow night in Toronto."
Marcus Johansson, meanwhile, missed Game 2 with an illness and did not travel with the team to Toronto. He could meet the group on Monday.
"Johansson is still under the weather, so he won't be on the plane today. We're gonna keep him away from the guys," said Cassidy. "Still want to dress our best lineup. Will be a little bit more of where is he? He can not be sick anymore, but weak…if it's a 24-48 hour thing and he's flying around, we'd consider more strongly putting him in."
Video: Cassidy gives updates on injuries, lineup
Over the series' first two games, Jake DeBrusk and Maple Leafs forward Nazem Kadri had several heated exchanges, but things took a darker turn late in Game 2 following DeBrusk's check on Patrick Marleau in front of the Bruins' bench.
As DeBrusk skated away, Kadri delivered a vicious cross-check to DeBrusk's face, knocking the winger to the ice. Kadri was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct and was offered an in-person hearing by the NHL's Department of Player Safety, which means a suspension could be for five games or more.
DeBrusk said following Game 2 that he underwent some testing and was hoping for the results to come back negative. Cassidy said on Sunday afternoon that the winger was "feeling OK" and would travel with the team to Toronto.
"It's in the league's hands, I'm sure they'll take a close look at it," said Zdeno Chara, who was on the ice for the hit. "There's a lot that goes through my head, but there are consequences. As much as you want to be there and take care of things, at the same time you have to be smart about it and not do something that's crossing the line or you're gonna be in the same group as the guy who initiated it. Gotta hold your composure and worry about results."
Kadri was suspended for three games during the teams' first-round series last season after boarding B's forward Tommy Wingels in Game 2.
Video: Chara on his reaction to the events of Saturday's win