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5 Keys: Bruins at Maple Leafs, game 4

Boston eyes lift from returns of Johansson, Moore; Toronto must continue power-play success

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / Staff Writer



Toronto leads best-of-7 series 2-1


[RELATED: Complete Bruins vs. Maple Leafs series coverage]


The Toronto Maple Leafs will try to push the Boston Bruins to within one loss of elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, NESN).

The Maple Leafs won Game 1 in Boston 4-1 and Game 3 in Toronto 3-2. The Bruins won Game 2 at home 4-1.

This is the 80th all-time playoff game between the Maple Leafs and Bruins with each having won 39 games and one game ending in a tie on March 31, 1951.

Here are 5 keys for Game 4:


1. Bruins need to play north-south game    

Boston coach Bruce Cassidy pointed out Wednesday morning that the Maple Leafs were much more dedicated to getting players back on defense in Game 3 than they were during the regular season and through the first two games of the series. As such, he said Boston must stop trying to slice through Toronto defenders in the neutral zone via cross-ice passes since the Maple Leafs have done a good job taking away the passing seams.

The solution would seem to be a more north-south game plan involving putting pucks in deep and getting prolonged shifts in the offensive zone, something the Bruins did to near perfection in their Game 2 victory.


2. John Moore, Marcus Johansson could provide boost for Bruins

Defenseman John Moore (upper body) and forward Marcus Johansson (illness) both skated Wednesday morning and are expected to rejoin the Bruins lineup. Johansson missed the past two games and Moore has missed nine straight, the final six of the regular season and all three in the series.

Moore brings a steadying influence to the Bruins defense, having played 38 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Johansson, who has played 73 postseason games, adds much-needed quickness to a Boston lineup that was a step slow on the forecheck in Game 3.

Video: Stevens discusses physical play of the Maple Leafs


3. Bruins need to improve their special teams

Cassidy went out of his way to mention that the Bruins' special teams, which had been so good during the regular season, faltered in Game 3. Toronto's final two goals (Auston Matthews, Andreas Johnsson) came on the power play and proved to be the difference in the Maple Leafs' 3-2 victory. Charlie Coyle did score a power play goal for Boston, but Cassidy did not think the unit as a whole put enough pressure on the Maple Leafs.

"We need to be better on both the power play and penalty kill," he said.

The Bruins power play has been productive in the series (3-for-9) but Cassidy did not like the structure his units were using. The same goes for the penalty kill, which had killed off all four shorthanded situations through the first two games before allowing a pair of power play goals in Game 3.


4. Maple Leafs must continue to silence the Bruins No. 1 line

Toronto center John Tavares and wings Zach Hyman and Mitchell Marner have done an outstanding job of shutting down the Bruins top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, especially in Game 3 when they held them without a point. Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak have combined for two points in 5-on-5 situations through the first three games of the series.

"It's a challenge," Tavares said. "They always seem to know where each other is on the ice. You have to be beware of them at any and all times.

"We have to make sure we're behind them as opposed to the other way around."


5. Andreas Johnsson, Toronto's new power play conductor

Johnsson was bumped up from the second to first power play units when Nazem Kadri was suspended for the remainder of the series following Game 2. He now occupies Kadri's spot as the man who plays in the middle down low. Essentially plays run through him.

So far, so good. Johnsson had a goal and assist on the power play in Toronto's Game 3 victory.

"He's got quick hands and a quick mind," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said when asked why Johnsson was so effective in that role.


Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- David Pastrnak

Jake DeBrusk -- David Krejci -- Danton Heinen

Marcus Johansson -- Charlie Coyle -- David Backes

Joakim Nordstrom -- Noel Acciari -- Chris Wagner

Zdeno Chara -- Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug -- Brandon Carlo

Matt Grzelcyk -- John Moore

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Paul Carey, Zane McIntyre, Karson Kuhlman, Steven Kampfer

Injured: Sean Kuraly (broken hand), Kevan Miller (lower body), Connor Clifton (undisclosed)


Maple Leafs projected lineup 

Zach Hyman -- John Tavares -- Mitchell Marner

Andreas Johnsson -- Auston Matthews -- Kasperi Kapanen

Patrick Marleau -- William Nylander -- Connor Brown

Tyler Ennis -- Frederik Gauthier -- Trevor Moore

Morgan Rielly -- Ron Hainsey

Jake Muzzin -- Nikita Zaitsev

Jake Gardiner -- Travis Dermott

Frederik Andersen

Michael Hutchinson

Scratched: Nic Petan, Justin Holl, Igor Ozhiganov, Martin Marincin, Calle Rosen, Garret Sparks

Injured: None

Suspended: Nazem Kadri


Status report

Johnsson is expected to replace Kuhlman in the lineup while Moore would replace Kampfer for the Bruins, who held an optional morning skate. ... The Maple Leafs are expected to dress the same lineup as Game 2. correspondent Dave McCarthy contributed to this report

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