May 25, 2018
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Toronto’s Reimer stifles Bruins, Leafs send series back to Canada

By Mike Shalin, The Sports Xchange

BOSTON — There is life left in the young Toronto Maple Leafs after all.

Stunned by a 4-3 overtime loss at home in Game 4 and down 3-1 in their series with the Boston Bruins, the Leafs came out hard, controlled the first period, built a 2-0 lead and then hung on for a 2-1 Game 5 victory Friday night.

With the Bruins now up 3-2 in this Eastern Conference first-round series, Game 6 will be played in Toronto Sunday night. Game 7, if necessary, would be back in Boston Monday night.

“Our hockey club was prepared to play,” Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said after the game. “We skated, and that’s what we asked them to do — go out and skate and work. And when we do that we can be competitive. That’s all I ever said: be competitive.”

Toronto has been down 3-1 in 14 previous series. The franchise has won one of those series, and that was back in 1942. The Bruins, meanwhile, are 15-2 when holding a 3-1 series lead (however, they are just 9-9 in Game 5s in that situation) after Friday night’s loss.

“We knew they were going to come out hard and we didn’t match it,” Boston’s Patrice Bergeron said after the loss. “We need to play like we did in the third.”

The Bruins began to take the game over in the second period. But the Leafs grabbed a 1-0 lead when Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference turned the puck over and was then beaten down the ice by Ryan Bozak for a shorthanded goal 11:27 into the second period.

The visitors made it 2-0 when Clarke MacArthur sped by defenseman Johnny Boychuk and beat goalie Tuukka Rask 1:58 into the third period.

From that point, it was pretty much all Boston. Boychuk hit a post, and then Zdeno Chara, who had assists on all four Boston goals Wednesday night, cut the two-goal deficit in half by scoring with 8:48 left. He had eight shots on goal in the loss.

But the Bruins, who had 19 shots in the third period, couldn’t score the tying goal.

With Rask pulled in the final 1:11, Jaromir Jagr found himself alone in front of Toronto goalie James Reimer, and the goalie made his seventh save of the night on the future Hall of Famer.

“I thought our first period, if we would play the same way we played from the midpoint of the game, we would be in much better shape I think,” said Chara, “so we’ve got to make sure we play the same way like we did towards the end.”

Outshot 19-8 in the first period, the Bruins held a 36-14 shot advantage the rest of the way. But Reimer, playing his best game of the series, kept the puck out of the net as the fifth-seeded Leafs won their second road game of the series.

“He’s remained fairly calm and levelheaded,” Carlyle said of his goalie. “You can see the growth of a hockey player and specifically a goaltender that’s finding his way and learning some of the intricacies of playoff hockey. And the experience should be real valuable to him as it should be to all of our young players.”

Down 2-0, the Bruins had a long shift in the Toronto zone, a shift that should have ended with Reimer gloving a flip shot from the point from Chara. But the goalie’s glove is not a strength and play continued. Krejci set up Chara in the high slot to make it 2-1 with 8:48 still left. The Maple Leafs then started to hang on like a battered boxer.

It was the 11th point of the series for Krejci, who had a hat trick, including the overtime winner, Wednesday night.

Rask stopped 19 shots in the first period, perhaps the best save being a glove stop on MacArthur 7:15 into the game. He deserved a better fate as he continued a fine personal series.

While Krejci set up the only goal, Bergeron’s line, with Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand on the wings, continued to struggle. They’re handling the defensive effort against Phil Kessel’s line but have been unable to score much.

“They know we do (need them to step up),” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “That has to come for us to be successful. Starting next game, it’s called accountability. We have to have more of that from that line as far as being a difference-maker or at least something positive and they’ve got to give us something.

“I thought the (Chris) Kelly line (with Jagr) was really good tonight. Krejci’s line has carried us and obviously (Greg) Campbell’s line did their job. If we can get those guys going, it would really help our team a lot.”

NOTES: Defenseman Wade Redden was out of the Bruins’ lineup with an undisclosed injury suffered in Game 4. Matt Bartkowski was recalled from Providence and got the nod over rookie Dougie Hamilton to make his playoff debut. “It’s good that he’s been playing. That’s why we sent them down there,” Julien said of Bartkowski, likely picked because he is a lefty shot and could play alongside righty shooting Adam McQuaid on defense. … With Redden out, Ference got power play time, and was beaten for that shorthanded goal. … John-Michael Liles was in the Toronto lineup replacing the injured Mark Fraser, who underwent surgery for facial fractures after taking a puck shot by Milan Lucic to the head. It was Liles’ second appearance in the series. … Toronto’s only series win in a 1-3 situation came in 1942, when the Leafs rallied from down 0-3 to win the Stanley Cup over Detroit. … The Bruins’ ceremonial banner captain for the game was Carlos Arredondo, the hero wearing the cowboy hat who raced to the aid of Boston Marathon victims.

NHL NOTEBOOK: The NHL announced Friday that Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby, Washington Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin and New York Islanders center John Tavares are the Hart Trophy finalists.

The Hart Trophy winner — the league’s MVP — will be announced during the Stanley Cup Finals.

Despite missing the final 12 games of the regular season with a broken jaw, Crosby finished fourth in the NHL with 56 points, second with 41 assists.

Ovechkin scored 32 goals to become the first three-time winner of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the league’s leading goal scorer. He had 56 points overall. He led the league with 16 power-play goals, 27 power-play points and 220 shots on goal.

Tavares finished third in the NHL with 28 goals and led the Islanders with 47 points. He was third in the league with 15 goals on the road. Tavares ranked in the top 10 in the NHL with 19 even-strength goals, nine power-play goals and five game-winning goals.

The voting was done by members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and submitted at the end of the regular season.

— Colorado Avalanche executive Joe Sakic has been given a new title — executive vice president of hockey operations — and will be in charge of all hockey-related decisions for the Avs, team owner Stan Kroenke said in a release.

Greg Sherman will remain general manager (under Sakic) and Josh Kroenke (son of the owner) will replace Pierre Lacroix as team president.Lacroix will stay on as an adviser.

— Nashville Predators forward Colin Wilson had stabilization surgery on his left shoulder earlier this week, and it will require about 4-6 months to recover.

Wilson, 23, had 19 points in 25 games before undergoing a similar procedure — on his right shoulder — in April.

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