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First Round

Maple Leafs welcome opportunity entering Game 5 against Bruins

Confidence remains high going back on road with series tied

by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs will have to rise above challenges, like the one ahead of them in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden on Friday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, NESN), if they are to go further in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"It's a real good opportunity for our group," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said Thursday. "In the end, to get to where we want to go, we've got to push through and overcome opportunities like the one we're about to face. It's all part of growing as a team and building a program here that has a chance each year."

The best-of-7 series is tied 2-2 after the Maple Leafs lost 6-4 in Game 4 on Wednesday, but Babcock said he thought they played well and is confident entering Game 5.

"We've liked three of the four games we played, the energy and the way we've moved," Babcock said. "We just made too many critical mistakes in Game 4. We can't make those mistakes, but we've got a good opportunity here tomorrow."

 

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

 

William Nylander will likely center a line between Patrick Marleau and Connor Brown for the first time on the road with Nazem Kadri suspended for the remainder of the first round. Boston will have the last change, which means the Toronto line could face a more difficult matchup than it did at home in Games 3 and 4, but Babcock said Nylander is ready for the challenge.

"Two games ago he was real committed defensively, he had some real good battles and did a good job," Babcock said. "In Game 4, he had the puck way more, that line spent a lot of time in the offensive zone and created a lot and had good opportunities and good looks. He probably felt better about his game last night than he did two games ago. In the end, for us, it's just about winning, but I think he's going in the right direction."

Nylander, Marleau and Brown combined for eight shots on goal in Game 4, and each was plus-1. Brown assisted on Travis Dermott's goal that cut Boston's lead to 5-4 at 13:27 of the third period.

"I actually thought their line was good last night when I went through the game today and see the opportunities they created," Babcock said. "I thought Marleau did a ton of good things for us, so I was impressed with that group, especially early in the game they were our best line when the rest of us weren't quite as good and gave us a chance to get going. They scored a big goal for us down the stretch there to give us a chance. I liked that group last night."

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