Big Story: Can the Boston Bruins avoid another first-round exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs? Or, will the Toronto Maple Leafs advance in their first postseason appearance since 2004?
Maple Leafs: Goaltender James Reimer is arguably the biggest reason why Toronto has staved off elimination with back-to-back victories, but winger Phil Kessel has certainly played a big role, too.
Kessel’s third goal of the series at 8:59 of the third period Sunday night gave the Maple Leafs a 2-0 lead – a much-needed insurance goal considering Milan Lucic ruined Reimer’s shutout bid with under 30 seconds remaining in regulation. Toronto held on for a 2-1 victory, forcing Monday’s Game 7 back in Boston.
Indeed, the controversial 2009 deal that sent Kessel from Boston to Toronto is beginning to pay major dividends for the latter.
"You know what? I'm not even going to talk about it,” Kessel said after the Game 6 win. “I think that's over with now. Obviously, he's a great player and there's two teams battling out there."
Bruins: Last year, Boston had to win a Game 6 against the host Washington Capitals in order to force a seventh game back at TD Garden. The Bruins were able to do that with a 4-3 overtime victory, only to return home to lose Game 7 in a 2-1 overtime defeat.
Boston, which finished fourth in the Eastern Conference, once again faces the possibility of going home prematurely if it can’t find a way to finish off these pesky Maple Leafs.
“I think tonight was definitely (bad) puck management,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We talked about it before the game and we talked about it after the first period. That sometimes means being strong on the puck, making the right plays, shooting versus over-passing. I didn’t think it was very good and as I said to our players, we’ve been a Jekyll-and-Hyde team all year, and that’s what you’re seeing right now. I think it’s important for us to bring the good Bruins team to the table for Game 7.”
To make matters worse, the Bruins were forced to spend the night in Toronto due to a mechanical issue with their airplane.
"Late during tonight's game we were made aware that there was a malfunction with our airplane,” general manager Peter Chiarelli said in a statement issued by the club. “As a result we are staying in Toronto on Sunday night and the team will travel to Boston on Monday morning."
Who's hot: Reimer has stopped 72 of 74 shots over the past two games to help keep the Maple Leafs’ season alive. ... Bruins captain Zdeno Chara picked up another assist Sunday, his sixth of the series. He has seven points overall.
Injury report: Maple Leafs defensemen Michael Kostka (finger) and Mark Fraser (head) are out. Tyler Bozak was a late scratch Sunday due to an undisclosed injury. ... Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference (undisclosed) did not accompany the team to Toronto for Game 6 and is unlikely to play Monday.