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Maple Leafs to regroup after Game 2 loss

Toronto outplayed by Bruins, may be without Kadri moving forward

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / NHL.com Staff Writer

BOSTON -- The Toronto Maple Leafs were outhit, outskated, outshot, outscored, outclassed.

The good thing is the game counted for just one loss.

That was the attitude the Maple Leafs tried to adopt after a 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference First Round at TD Garden on Saturday. 

 

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

 

The best-of-7 series is tied heading to Game 3 at Scotiabank Arena on Monday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, NESN, TVAS), where Toronto hopes to build on earning a split in Boston.

Easier said than done.

"To be honest with you, when you come in here, initially you're hoping you probably get a split," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "Once you get the first game you get greedy and want the second game. We didn't get the second game. We're in a best-of-5 now, we've got to dig in.

"It's a regroup opportunity for us, that's all there is. We liked our game in Game 1, felt real good about yourself. We didn't like our game in Game 2, don't feel as good about yourself. We've got to regroup and get ready to play."

But the loss Saturday was about emotion as much as it was about execution. The Bruins had it. The Maple Leafs didn't.

Video: Boston Bruins come back and tie the series at one

The crowd was electric before the national anthems were played, thanks to the presence of recently retired New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who waved the fan banner in a pregame ceremony that had the building rocking.

Once the puck was dropped, Boston's forecheck looked as if there was line after line of Gronkowskis bearing down on the puck-carrier. The Bruins hit anything and everything, a recipe that resulted in first period goals from Charlie Coyle and Brad Marchand.

That physical play took its toll on the Maple Leafs, physically and emotionally, as the game wore on. Toronto's frustration finally came to a boil at 14:03 of the third period courtesy of forward Nazem Kadri.

The incident started when Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk delivered a check on Maple Leafs forward Patrick Marleau into the stanchion along the boards near the Bruins blue line. Kadri, who had been called for a roughing minor earlier in the game on DeBrusk, responded by cross-checking the Bruins forward. Kadri was ejected from the game after receiving a major penalty and game misconduct.

The NHL Department of Player Safety has offered Kadri an in-person hearing, which stipulates that the League can suspend a player for more than five games.

"My two options would be [Marleau] or [William Nylander]," Babcock said when asked what the Maple Leafs would do at center if Kadri is suspended for Game 3. "We'll get that figured out and go from there."

Video: Bruins win Game 2 to even series with Maple Leafs

At the end of Game 2, the statistics reflected Boston's domination. The Bruins won 4-1, outshot the Maple Leafs 41-31, and had a 44-39 advantage in hits.

"I didn't think we executed as well, weren't as crisp with the puck, and that didn't allow us to generate as much in the forecheck like we did in Game 1," Toronto forward John Tavares said. "We knew they were going to come hard and respond and we just didn't execute at a high enough level. Sometimes that's the way it goes, and you just got to stay with it and find your game."

A growing concern for Toronto is the lack of production from center Auston Matthews, who does not have a point in the series and has two points (one goal, one assist) in nine playoff games against the Bruins dating to the 2018 Eastern Conference First Round, which Boston won in seven games.

"We weathered the storm as well as we could and I thought halfway through the game we started pushing back much better and into the third period, generating more chances and playing more [in the offensive zone]," Matthews said. "Walking out of here at 1-1 going into our barn, we have to use the momentum as much as we can just like they did."

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