TORONTO - John Moore and Marcus Johansson were among the few Bruins that took the ice for an optional pregame skate on Wednesday morning, signaling that both could be back in the lineup for Game 4 against the Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena.
"If they feel good, they'll go in. They are trending well," said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, who noted that Steven Kampfer and Karson Kuhlman would be the scratches if both players do suit up. "[Johansson's] been under the weather, so he has to have his energy level to be able to help us. John's been skating a lot, but now he's at the point where he's able to play. I don't anticipate there being any issue there."
Johansson, who missed Games 2 and 3 with an illness, appears to be more of a question mark than Moore (upper-body) as he and the team try to determine if his energy level has returned sufficiently enough for playoff hockey.
"Felt good out there. I was fine," said Johansson. "I'm gonna talk to Butchy and discuss it, but I felt good out there now. I'll prepare as if I'm playing and we'll see what happens."
Video: B's look to bounce back in Game 4
Regardless of which players are in the lineup, the Bruins will need a strong effort as they look to even this best-of-seven series at 2 games apiece before it shifts back to Boston on Friday night. And that starts with finding ways to create more offensively against a Toronto team that has been far stingier than it has been in the past.
"We've seen Toronto play a tighter defensive game, we didn't see that as much during the season," said Cassidy. "It's up to us to find ways to generate offense with O-zone puck possession. Is that an X's and O's or is that a motivation to get pucks behind them and have the will to win it and get to the front of the net? I think it's both."
The Bruins also want to shore things up on special teams after surrendering two power-play goals in Game 3, and struggling onwhat has been a shaky power play of their own through three games.
"I thought that Game 3 was a very close game, they got on top with two power-play goals. But for sure it's something that we know we've got to be tighter," said Zdeno Chara. "We were pretty good all season, so we're definitely looking to improve in that part. In playoffs, especially, special teams make a big difference in a series."
Video: Chara speaks to media ahead of Game 4
Johansson is no stranger to postseason success against the Maple Leafs. While with the Capitals, Johansson notched two goals - including the overtime winner - in Game 6 of their 2017 first-round series with Toronto, helping Washington to a 2-1 series-clinching victory. Johansson is hoping to carry some of that mojo into the remainder of this year's matchup.
"I have a few, that's nice," Johansson said of his fond memories at Scotiabank Arena. "This is a new series, a different series. It's two different teams. But it's always good to have those memories. Wouldn't mind an ending like that."
Video: Johansson speaks to media ahead of Game 4
Taken by Surprise
Many around the hockey world were stunned by the Columbus Blue Jackets' four-game sweep of the Presidents' Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night. Count Cassidy as one of those people.
"Interesting. I did not see it coming. I don't know if you did," said Cassidy. "We played Columbus late in the year, we saw how they can play. They're a good team. I think they were still putting their pieces together. Sounds like the pieces are together now.
"I watched a lot of that series…Stanley Cup Playoffs, nothing surprises you. Once you're in, every team has a chance to win. Our focus is much more on the Toronto Maple Leafs, but listen, I'm a hockey fan. I would not have guessed that Tampa would not win a game in the playoffs."
The winner of the Bruins-Maple Leafs series will take on the Blue Jackets in the second round.
Video: Cassidy speaks to media ahead of Game 4