The Leafs battled back in the third period but come up just short against the Bruins in Game 4.
BRUINS STRIKE TWICE IN FIRST, BUT HYMAN'S GOAL CUTS LEAD IN HALF BEFORE FIRST INTERMISSION
The Leafs were seeking to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in their first-round showdown against Boston, but they knew the Bruins weren't going to hand them the win on a silver platter. And, sure enough, the visitors at Scotiabank Arena Wednesday were first to score when Bruins blueliner Charlie McAvoy scored on the power play at 3:03 of the first.
Three minutes and thirty-five seconds after McAvoy's goal, Boston doubled their lead on winger Brad Marchand's second goal of the post-season. But the Bruins' second goal didn't discourage Toronto, who pressured Bs goalie Tuukka Rask through the end of the period and were rewarded when a knuckleball-shot from D-man Morgan Rielly at the blueline found its way through traffic and off the stick of winger Zach Hyman before entering Boston's net at the 17:55 mark:
Video: BOS@TOR, Gm4: Drake celebrates Hyman's tip-in tally
Leafs Nation exploded with joy in the building, and though Toronto was slightly outshot in the period (by a 14-12 mark), the momentum was with the home team as the first intermission arrived.
LEAFS TIE IT UP EARLY IN SECOND ON MATTHEWS GOAL, BUT BRUINS SCORE TWICE BEFORE SECOND INTERMISSION
The Leafs maintained their fast pace in the second frame and outshot Boston 14-8 in the period, and just 1:07 into the middle frame, centre Auston Matthews fired a snap shot through Rask's legs to even the score at two goals apiece:
Video: BOS@TOR, Gm4: Matthews beats Rask with quick wrister
Unfortunately, the tie was short-lived, as Bruins winger David Pastrnak deflected a pass from Marchand to put Boston ahead 3-2 at the 3:16 mark. Pastrnak then restored Boston's two-goal advantage at 4:51 of the second, generating a power play marker for his second of the night.
The Buds didn't play poorly in the second, but Boston capitalized on only a couple of Leafs defensive breakdowns, and sometimes in the post-season, that's the difference between a team that wins, and one that doesn't.
BRUINS OUTLAST LEAFS IN HIGH-SCORING THIRD, EVEN SERIES UP AT TWO GAMES APIECE
The Leafs came out of the dressing room in the third looking as tenacious as they did in the first two periods, but the Bruins withstood Toronto's push-back, and blueliner Zdeno Chara's shot from the Buds' blueline travelled through traffic and beat Andersen at 5:39 of the third to give Boston its biggest lead of the night.
However, the Leafs didn't stop competing, pressuring the Bruins into a penalty with 8:18 left in regulation time. And, just 10 seconds into the man advantage, Matthews netted his second of the game to cut Boston's lead to 5-3:
Video: BOS@TOR, Gm4: Matthews taps home PPG for second goal
Matthews' goal gave Leafs fans reason to get back into the game, and with 6:33 left in regulation, blueliner Travis Dermott got the puck between the circles in Boston's zone, and beat Rask on a shot that went off a Bruins defender to make it 5-4:
Video: BOS@TOR, Gm4: Dermott nets snap shot off defender
Toronto outshot Boston 15-8 in the third and 42-31 overall, but with Andersen pulled in favour of the extra skater, the Leafs couldn't get the game-tying marker, and Boston added an empty-net goal with two seconds left to secure the win and pull the Bruins even in the series at two games apiece.
The Leafs are off to Boston for what's sure to be a hard fight Friday night before a loud Bruins crowd. The Leafs have already won in Boston's arena, and no team has won two straight games thus far, so the Buds should have confidence they can pull off another win and take a crucial 3-2 series lead back to Toronto for Game 6 Sunday.