The Leafs and Bruins battled back-and-forth through the first 40 minutes, but Auston Matthews opened the scoring in the third and Kasperi Kapanen added another to lead the Leafs to a 2-1 victory.
LEAFS AND BRUINS FAIL TO SCORE THROUGH FIRST TWO PERIODS AS BOTH SIDES DIG IN DEFENSIVELY
The Leafs and Bruins didn't take many daring chances at the beginning of Game 5 Friday in Boston. Toronto held the Bruins to just six shots in the first period and another nine in the second frame, but the Leafs only managed to register seven first-period shots, and also had only 16 in total after 40 minutes.
Both Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen and his Bruins counterpart Tuukka Rask had to be on their toes in spite of the low shot totals, because both sides narrowly (and on more than one occasion) missed getting on the scoreboard first Friday. But there was a feeling-out process going on, and with the stakes being so enormous, it's easy to understand why there would be a tentativeness to the style of play through the first two periods.
Video: TOR@BOS, Gm5: Andersen shuts down Marchand, Pastrnak
LEAFS GET CRUCIAL FIRST GOAL OF GAME FROM MATTHEWS, INSURANCE MARKER FROM KAPANEN TO TAKE 3-2 SERIES LEAD
The Leafs started the third period aiming to play smart hockey, not give Boston many top-rate scoring opportunities, and make the most of the chances they got. That strategy paid off for Toronto at the 11:33 mark, when blueliner Jake Muzzin found centre Auston Matthews with a tremendous cross-ice pass for a one-timer past Rask:
Video: TOR@BOS, Gm5: Kapanen doubles lead for Maple Leafs
Matthews' goal - his fourth in his past three games in this series - was challenged by Boston for goalie interference. However, the officials ruled in the Leafs' favour, and Toronto had the game's first lead.
The Buds extended that lead just 2:12 after Matthews' goal when Matthews' line struck again: this time, winger Andreas Johnsson found winger Kasperi Kapanen with 6:15 left in regulation time to make it 2-0 for the visitors:
Video: TOR@BOS, Gm5: Matthews buries feed from Muzzin
Suddenly - and in a way familiar to Leafs fans who know how rapidly the Leafs can pile up offence in any given game this season - Toronto had a two-goal lead and less than 10 minutes left to play in the third. If you're on the wrong side of that score, you know how fast time can fly - and Boston was desperate to get on the score sheet as the final few minutes ticked on.
With the Bruins pulling Rask in favour of the extra skater, Boston broke through Andersen and cut Toronto's lead to 2-1 with less than 44 seconds left in regulation time when David Krejci scored his second goal of the post-season. But that would be the final goal of the game, and Andersen wound up stopping 13 of 14 shots in the third period and 28 of 29 on the night to secure Toronto's third win of the best-of-seven series.
Game 6 takes place at Scotiabank Arena at a special 3 p.m. time slot Sunday afternoon, leaving the Maple Leafs with precious little time to clean up small areas of the game they believe need addressing. But the good news is the Leafs have shown (a) an ability to win at home, and the ability to play a calm, canny, all-around game to beat the Bruins and clinch the series in front of an adoring Leafs Nation.