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After Game 5 win in Boston, Leafs shift focus to home-ice battle

by Adam Proteau Proteautype / MapleLeafs.com

The Maple Leafs staved off elimination from the 2018 playoffs with a 4-3 victory over the Bruins in Boston Saturday. But if they wish to extend the first-round series to a seventh game with a Game 6 win at Air Canada Centre Monday night, they're going to need to do something that proved difficult for them in Game 5.

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Five Takeaways - Leafs at Bruins - 04/21/18

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins Saturday at TD Garden in Game Five of their first-round playoff series:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

Johnsson scores off Kadri's pass

TOR@BOS, Gm5: Johnsson nets his first playoff goal

R1, Gm5: Andreas Johnsson takes a great pass from Nazem Kadri, goes to his backhand and slides the puck home, giving the Maple Leafs a 2-0 lead

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1. Leafs weather Bruins' shot storm in first frame, enter second period with two-goal advantage via goals from Brown, Johnsson. Facing elimination from the playoffs, the Leafs expected an early push from the Bruins in Boston, and that's what they got, as the home team outshot Toronto by more than a 2:1 ratio (15-6) in the first 20 minutes of action. However, Buds goalie Frederik Andersen was at his best in the opening frame, stopping every shot he saw in the period, and that allowed the Leafs to be at their opportunistic best: at the 6:36 mark of the period, centre Auston Matthews carried the puck around behind the Bruins' net, threw it out in front of goalie Tuukka Rask, and winger Connor Brown batted it in for his first-ever playoff goal and a 1-0 Toronto advantage.

Three minutes and 36 seconds later, the Leafs extended their lead when winger Andreas Johnsson took a terrific pass from centre Nazem Kadri and beat Rask for his first career NHL post-season goal, and Toronto took a 2s-0 lead into the first intermission. With their backs against the wall, the Buds needed Andersen to play well and for the skaters in front of him to make the most of their scoring chances - and that's precisely how the first period played out.

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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Bruins - 04/19/18

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins Thursday at Air Canada Centre in Game Four of their first-round playoff series:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

1. Bruins strike first with goal 28 seconds into game. After winning the first two games in Boston, the Bruins fell 4-2 to the Leafs Monday and were aiming to be the first of the two clubs to win a road game in the series. They got out to a good start in that regard Thursday, as blueliner Torey Krug's shot from just inside the Leafs' blueline beat goaltender Frederik Andersen up high and the visitors had a 1-0 lead 28 seconds into the contest.

Andersen was screened on the play, but regardless of how it happened, the Bruins goal immediately had the Leafs chasing the game, and after a solid Game 3 win, that's not how Toronto wanted to begin a showdown as important as this one.

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Bolstered by Game 3 win, Leafs set sights on levelling series

by Adam Proteau Proteautype / MapleLeafs.com

The Maple Leafs hunkered down for another practice session Wednesday in west-end Toronto, buoyed by their 4-2 victory over Boston in Game 3 of their first-round playoff series against the Bruins. The win cut Boston's series lead to 2-1, and infused Buds players with the sense they could do more than just hang with one of the league's best squads - they could beat them, and tie the series with a win at Air Canada Centre Thursday night.
 

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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs Bruins - 04/16/18

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins Monday at Air Canada Centre in Game Three of their first-round playoff series:

by Adam Proteau Proteautype / MapleLeafs.com

1. Leafs put in their best start of series, take first lead on van Riemsdyk's power play goal. Boston made the most of their two home games to start the first-round series against the Leafs, but in their first game in Toronto Monday, the Buds began the night focused and determined to change the dynamic. The Leafs outshot the Bruins 12-8 in the opening frame, drew the only penalty in the first 40 minutes, and scored on that man advantage when winger James van Riemsdyk batted the puck past goalie Tuukka Rask from close range with 2:55 left before the first intermission.

The goal gave Toronto their first lead of the series, got the ACC crowd in a frenzy, and built a bit of momentum into a power play that has struggled to generate offence in the first two games. That was as good a building block as any as the Buds aimed to rebound from sub-par efforts in Games 1 and 2.

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Five Takeaways - Leafs vs. Bruins - 04/14/18

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 7-3 defeat by the Boston Bruins Saturday at TD Garden in Game Two of their first-round playoff series:

by Adam Proteau / MapleLeafs.com

1. Pastrnak continues hot streak, gives Bruins game's first lead early in first. The Bruins dominated Game 1 against the Leafs, and they got on the scoreboard first Saturday when winger David Pastrnak netted his second goal of the series at 5:26 of the opening period. Pastrnak - part of Boston's top line with centre Patrice Bergeron and winger Brad Marchand - had three points in Game 1, and beating Buds goalie Frederik Andersen early in the first gave the home side even more confidence than they had heading into Game 2.

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Five Takeaways - Leafs at Bruins - 04/12/18

Here are five takeaways from the Maple Leafs' 5-1 loss to the Boston Bruins Thursday at TD Garden in Game One of their first-round playoff series:

by Adam Proteau Proteautype / MapleLeafs.com

1. Bruins draw first blood on Marchand's power play goal. The Bruins were an energized group to start Game One, putting the Leafs on their heels early and drawing the first power play of the night at 5:04 of the first period. Twenty-four seconds into the man advantage, Boston took a 1-0 lead when winger Brad Marchand beat Buds goalie Frederik Andersen and gave the Bruins crowd reason to erupt in applause.

Clearly, Toronto didn't match Boston's intensity out of the gate, and the Leafs' penalty killers couldn't prevent the Bruins' big line - including winger David Pastrnak, who earned the secondary assist on Marchand's goal - from having an impact early on.

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Lengthy practice time builds anticipation for Leafs/Bruins showdown

by Adam Proteau Proteautype / MapleLeafs.com

The Maple Leafs got one final practice in Wednesday before heading out to Boston to play Game 1 of their first-round playoff series against the Bruins Thursday night. And the extended time prior to the first showdown between the Atlantic Division/Original Six rivals has only heightened the anticipation of what promises to be a memorable clash.

"Real good for preparation, real good," Leafs head coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday regarding the three days of practice. "We got a real hard workout in on Monday, did special teams (Tuesday) and then just tried to be as quick as we could here today. But we're dialled into their team no different than they're good on ours. We should be ready to go (in) Game One, but, as you know, in all playoff series, it's a battle and we've got to be prepared. We're excited and we look forward to it."

 

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Series preview: Leafs, Bruins promises to be close, emotional

by Adam Proteau Proteautype / MapleLeafs.com

The long and storied history between the Maple Leafs and Bruins adds an emotional element to their first-round playoff series, but make no mistake, this is an entirely new chapter. Toronto is bringing its most successful regular-season squad ever, while Boston has retooled much of the roster that led them to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011 and a Cup Final appearance two years later.

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Leafs feeling confident heading into series with Bruins

by Adam Proteau Proteautype / MapleLeafs.com

With the Boston Bruins confirmed as their first-round playoff opponent, the Maple Leafs got to work at their practice facility Monday. And every member of the team - whether they played in Toronto's 2017 series against Washington or not - is focused on building on their regular-season successes and pushing even deeper into the post-season this time around.

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