BOSTON - Sean Kuraly seems to have a knack for coming up clutch in the biggest moments.
He notched first two NHL goals - including the overtime winner - in just his third career postseason game in 2017, added two more in the Bruins' first-round series against Toronto last spring, and picked up the winning tally late in the third period at the 2019 Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium.
That ability to come through in the big spots, coupled with his patented speed and energy, make his potential return to the lineup for Friday night's Game 5 a welcome one. As the Bruins aim to take a 3-2 series lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Kuraly is likely to take his familiar spot as Boston's fourth-line left wing.
"He's hard to play against, Sean," said Bruins coach Cassidy, who said he anticipated that Kuraly would be back in. "His last two playoffs, he's been very good offensively. We'd love for that to happen, but most of all we'd like him to be able to frustrate the other team's top players by having the puck and checking well and being hard to play against."
Video: Kuraly looking to make 2019 playoff debut
Kuraly has missed almost a month with a fractured right hand, but resumed skating roughly two weeks ago and believes that his conditioning will be at a sufficient enough level for playoff hockey.
"It will take as long as you think it's gonna take," said Kuraly, who will wear a splint for the time being. "If you think it's gonna take a few shifts, it will take a few shifts. Trying to be ready when the puck drops. I've been skating for two weeks. We'll see. My plan is to be ready when I'm called upon. That's what they expect of me. That's my expectation as well.
"There will definitely be energy. Like I said, that's what my job is. That's what I'm expected to do is bring energy. Luckily, I've got a little bit of that."
Boston's fourth line has missed that boost. The trio of Joakim Nordstrom, Noel Acciari, and Chris Wagner has struggled to find its way through the first four games of the series, managing just one point (Nordstrom's empty-netter in Game 4) thus far. Should Kuraly return, Nordstrom would be the healthy scratch.
"They were really good all year for us," said Cassidy. "Sean was a big part of that, a bit undervalued on paper. A bit undervalued on paper, can get to loose pucks in our end and get it out of our zone...he's certainly a hard guy to get the puck from when he's on. That complements the Wagners and Acciaris so they can go to the net and win their puck battles."
Video: Cassidy discusses boost Kuraly can bring
Kuraly, Acciari, and Wagner formed one of the league's top fourth lines over the course of the regular season, which bodes well for the swift return of their chemistry.
"Legs, fast, probably one of the faster guys on our team, if not the fastest," said Wagner. "He'll be strong on pucks…he can separate, especially against a quicker team. That's key for us. We played together for three, four months, so that comfort level for me and Noel, that will be good too.
"Hopefully we still have the same chemistry we had, we had pretty good run with it. So that builds my confidence, at least, going into tonight."
On the Lookout
Jake DeBrusk was Boston's leading goal scorer during last year's seven-game showdown with the Maple Leafs, notching five during his first career postseason series. But through four games of this year's first-round matchup, the winger is still searching for a goal.
DeBrusk, who has one assist thus far, was banged up a bit over the first two games of the series, but was not making any excuses on Friday morning.
"It would be nice. It would be something that I'm looking to do," DeBrusk said of finding the back of the net. "In saying that, I think this time of year is perfect. It doesn't matter who's scoring, as long as we win. That's the beauty of it. But I'd like to find my game. I think that I've had some zeros and some hundreds in there.
"Just kind of have to find some consistency in general and do things that make me successful and hopefully that leads to some goals, but as long as we win it doesn't really matter."
Video: DeBrusk chats with the media after pregame skate
Friday's Projected Lineup
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Danton Heinen
Jake DeBrusk - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Marcus Johansson - Charlie Coyle - David Backes
Sean Kuraly - Noel Acciari - Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara - Charlie McAvoy
Torey Krug - Brandon Carlo
John Moore - Matt Grzelcyk
Video: Kuraly likely in, Nordstrom out as B's for Game 5