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5 Keys: Maple Leafs at Bruins, Game 5

Toronto hoping for more from Marner; Boston needs top line to stay hot

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

MAPLE LEAFS AT BRUINS

7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, NESN

Best-of-7 series tied 2-2

 

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins will each try to take the lead in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference First Round when they play Game 5 at TD Garden on Friday.

The teams have alternated victories in the series, with the Maple Leafs winning Games 1 and 3, and the Bruins taking Games 2 and 4.

Here are 5 keys for Game 5:

 

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

 

1. Improved Maple Leafs penalty kill

The Maple Leafs were 17th in the NHL on the penalty kill during the regular season (77.9 percent) and those issues have carried into the postseason.

The Bruins went 2-for-2 on the power play in their 6-4 win in Game 4 on Thursday, including scoring the first goal of the game on the man-advantage. Boston has scored at least one power-play goal in all four games against Toronto and is 5-for-11 (45.5 percent) with the man-advantage in the series.

"We've got to fix it," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said after Game 4. "The bottom line is we can't keep giving those power-play goals up."

 

2. More from Marner

Mitchell Marner is tied for the Maple Leafs' playoff scoring lead with four points (two goals, two assists), but Toronto needs more from him, or at least more than they got from him in Game 4.

The forward leads the Maple Leafs with 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 11 playoff games the past two years against the Bruins, but Boston was able to shut him down in Game 4, limiting him to one assist and one shot on goal.

It's incumbent on Marner to provide the offense and elusiveness that he showcased earlier in the series. He scored two goals in Game 1 but has two assists in the past three games. The Maple Leafs need Marner to put pressure on the opposing line, which usually is the Bruins' top line led by center Patrice Bergeron, and to keep them defending more than they'd like.

 

3. Don't take the foot off the gas

This goes for both teams. The Bruins built a 5-2 lead in Game 4 before seeing it nearly slip away after the Maple Leafs scored two goals in the third period. 

Both teams should have learned that almost no lead is safe in the playoffs.

"They had a strong push," Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said. "This isn't January, where teams are down in the third and they're thinking, 'OK, we're off to Buffalo tomorrow, the next night.' If you watched Colorado a couple nights ago come back from two down (against the Calgary Flames), St. Louis last night (against the Winnipeg Jets), you're playing to the last whistle. We have to understand that. I think we do. They just had a good push."

 

4. Keep the Bruins' top line going

Though they may or may not play as a unit as the series goes on -- it can change shift-to-shift under Cassidy -- the fact that the Bruins' three most important scorers broke out in Game 4 was important. Bergeron had an assist, Brad Marchand had a goal and two assists and David Pastrnak scored two goals. Their six points (three goals, three assists) in Game 4 matched their combined output for the first three games (three goals, three assists).

The Bruins may have more depth than last season, when they beat the Maple Leafs in seven games in the Eastern Conference First Round, but they don't have enough to make up for their top players not producing offensively.

 

5. Play of the Bruins' fourth line

Cassidy said Friday that he anticipates Sean Kuraly returning to the lineup for the first time since he broke his right hand March 21. He'll replace Joakim Nordstrom and is expected to play a key role on the fourth line.

The Bruins had been using Nordstrom, Noel Acciari and Chris Wagner on the fourth line but they have struggled against the Maple Leafs, particularly in Game 4 when they were hemmed in their zone on nearly every shift.

"They need to have more O-zone puck possession or they're in trouble," Cassidy said after Game 4. "And that's been one of the strengths of their group. They can keep the puck alive in the [offensive] zone against good players. … They just haven't been able to do that yet. It's certainly something we'll talk about with that group, but that's an area where their game needs to get better."

 

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

Injured: None

Suspended: Nazem Kadri

 

Bruins projected lineup

Brad Marchand -- Patrice Bergeron -- Danton Heinen

Jake DeBrusk -- David Krejci -- David Pastrnak

Marcus Johansson -- Charlie Coyle -- David Backes

Sean Kuraly -- Noel Acciari -- Chris Wagner

Zdeno Chara -- Charlie McAvoy

Torey Krug -- Brandon Carlo

John Moore -- Matt Grzelcyk

Tuukka Rask

Jaroslav Halak

Scratched: Joakim Nordstrom, Karson Kuhlman

Injured: Connor Clifton (upper body), Kevan Miller (lower body)

Status report

The Maple Leafs will use the same lineup from Game 4. … Kuraly, who had surgery March 23, missed eight regular-season games and four playoff games. 

NHL.com correspondent Matt Kalman contributed to this report

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