BOSTON, MA – The Bruins will not be heading to Toronto the way they expected. The series will shift to Air Canada Centre tied at one game apiece, after the Maple Leafs took down the Black & Gold, 4-2, on Saturday night at TD Garden.
Toronto came out faster and harder, clearly having made adjustments after their underperformance in the first game of the series. However, despite the Leafs constant offensive pressure, Dougie Hamilton, making his NHL playoff debut, did not look out of place.
“I think I felt good,” said the rookie, who registered two hits in 13:32 of ice time, while taking the place of the suspended Andrew Ference. “I think the first period I was a little bit nervous. I haven’t played a game in a while, but [I] felt better after that. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win.”
“Dougie played a solid game and he did what he had to do,” added B’s Head Coach Claude Julien, who after the morning skate expressed his confidence in Hamilton’s ability to step into the lineup without issue.
Hamilton was not on the ice for any of the Maple Leafs’ four goals, and didn’t think the Bruins were too overwhelmed by the Leafs forechecking pressure. The problem, he said, was the defensive breakdowns in other areas of the ice.
“I think they had a few shifts where they were on us a little bit,” explained Hamilton. “But I think just off the rushes and breakdowns and stuff like, that is where they got their chances. I don’t think they were pressuring us too hard on the forecheck or anything.
“I think if we maybe scored a few more goals early, I think we could’ve gotten the crowd into it a little bit more. But [it was] definitely more intense, just with how everyone is acting after the whistles and finishing checks and things like that.”
With Ference most likely returning to the lineup in Game 3, Hamilton may find himself as a healthy scratch again. But, No. 27 still acknowledged that the Bruins must improve on Monday night if they want to take back the lead in the series.
And growing up as a Maple Leafs fan – Hamilton made his way to a few Toronto playoff games back in the day – he knows how pumped the building will be for its first postseason game since 2004.
“That’ll be really cool, I think,” said Hamilton of the atmosphere at Air Canada Centre for Game 3. “I remember going to playoff games as a kid and I know the fans are pretty good in Toronto. I’m sure it’ll be a really good atmosphere.
“I think we need to obviously get better than that and go over there and play a good road game and try to get the lead in the series.”
Hamilton started the game playing alongside Wade Redden, who said after the loss that the Bruins must get off to a quick start in Game 3 and quiet the Maple Leaf faithful.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of energy and a lot of noise,” said Redden. “They’ll be going back on a high, so we’ve got to come out with a good start, take the crowd out of it, and have a strong game.”
Julien said the Bruins must block out all the noise and focus on getting their game back to where it was in the first game of the series.
“Well no doubt, I mean if you’re Toronto right now and you haven’t been in the playoffs for that long your fans have got to be excited over there,” said the B’s bench boss, when asked postgame if he thought the atmosphere in Toronto would be rocking.
“We know it’s going to be noisy and there’s going to be a lot of electricity in the air. And we have to face that. We’re the bad team coming in and what you’ve got to do is focus on your job and hopefully not let that kind of stuff throw you off your game.”