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Maple Leafs set to host Bruins for Game 3

by David Kalan


(Best-of-7 series tied 1-1)


Big story: The last time the Toronto Maple Leafs hosted a game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs no one had heard of iPhones, Barack Obama was an Illinois state senator pondering a run for Congress and Leafs forward Nazem Kadri was just 13 years old. Nine years have passed since Canada's largest city last saw postseason NHL hockey, but that will all change Monday night when the Leafs host the Boston Bruins for Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series. While the event will be cause for celebration, the stakes will be high as each team looks to take a 2-1 series lead.

Team Scope:

Bruins: After significantly outplaying Toronto in Game 1 of the series, the Bruins faced a more-stout opponent in Game 2, particularly on the physical side. Boston is not a team that has shied away from the physical aspects of the game, but the Maple Leafs, also known for their toughness, outhit Boston while blocking 17 shots. As a result the Bruins have lost their home ice advantage and will need to steal Game 3 or 4 at Air Canada Centre to regain that edge.

In addition to matching Toronto physically, the Bruins are looking for more offensive production, particularly from Jaromir Jagr's line with Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly. Coach Claude Julien implied Sunday that Jagr may still be recovering from a recent flu bug, but if the future Hall of Famer, who is scoreless in the series so far, can start producing, the Bruins might take back the series lead.

Maple Leafs: After being dramatically outworked by the Bruins in Game 1, the Leafs returned the favor in Game 2 Saturday night, earning a 4-2 win and a crucial split of the series' first two games in Boston. Much of that came courtesy of two goals by Joffrey Lupul and a superb 39-save performance by goalie James Reimer, but an emotional lift also came from Phil Kessel scoring an even-strength goal against his former team for the first time in 24 career meetings.

The Leafs likely couldn't have asked for a better sendoff as they come home to host their first home playoff game since Toronto lost to Philadelphia in Game 6 of the 2004 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Monday will be the first playoff game at the Air Canada Centre in nine years and two days, and with the pent up excitement of the crowd, expect Toronto to get a significant boost in energy when the puck drops.

Who's hot: Johnny Boychuk isn't exactly known for his scoring touch, but the Boston defenseman has two goals in the series' first two games. ... Toronto's James van Riemdsdyk made the highlights by scoring in Game 2 while he was falling to the ice for his second goal of the series.

Injury report: Toronto defenseman Mike Kostka (broken finger) is out indefinitely.

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