Maple Leafs force Game 7 with 3-1 win over Bruins

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) battles Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara (33) in front of goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) during NHL round one playoff hockey action in Toronto on Monday, April 23, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

TORONTO – Frederik Andersen made 32 saves as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Boston Bruins 3-1 to tie their first-round playoff series 3-3 on Monday night.

William Nylander, Mitch Marner and Tomas Plekanec, into an empty net, scored for the Leafs, who trailed the Eastern Conference quarterfinal 3-1 before winning two straight to force Game 7 on Wednesday in Boston.

Nikita Zaitsev added two assists. Marner and Plekanec had one assist each.

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Jake DeBrusk replied for the Bruins. Tuukka Rask stopped 27 shots after getting pulled in Game 5 at TD Garden.

The winner of the series will meet the Tampa Bay Lightning in the next round.

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There was a moment of silence before the opening faceoff at Air Canada Centre to honour the 10 people killed Monday when a van mounted a sidewalk in Toronto’s north end and struck multiple pedestrians. Fifteen others were injured.

Scoreless after an end-to-end first period, the Bruins grabbed a 1-0 lead 1:02 into the second when David Krejci won a faceoff after an icing against Auston Matthews right to DeBrusk, who ripped a shot between Andersen’s arm and body.

Toronto responded just 35 seconds later when Nylander buried a rebound off a Jake Gardiner shot from the point for his first goal of the playoffs.

The Leafs appeared to go ahead at 3:04 when Zach Hyman beat Rask with a no-look backhand as he fell to the ice. But the Bruins challenged the play for goalie interference, and replays showed the winger knocked the stick out of Rask’s hands as he cruised through the crease just before scoring.

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Boston took control of the period from there as Toronto could barely get out of its own zone or complete a clean breakout. Andersen _ who recorded 42 stops in a 4-3 victory in Game 5 on Saturday _ made great saves off Rick Nash, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron to keep things level.

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The Leafs then took an unlikely lead completely against the run of play with 6:35 left in the period when Marner was quickest to a loose puck in the slot and beat Rask with a backhand to the far post after Marchand couldn’t clear.

Toronto killed off its first penalty early in the third, and was then left fuming when David Backes elbowed Andersen in the mask, but was only assessed an offsetting roughing minor when Roman Polak came to his goalie’s defence.

The Leafs couldn’t connect on their third power play moments later, and Andersen stoned Sean Kuraly with under 10 minutes to go.

Rask then robbed Nylander off a great feed from Auston Matthews.

The Bruins went back to the power play with under six minutes left, but the best chance came when Rask stopped Kasperi Kapanen on a 2-on-1 that turned into a breakaway before stoning Krejci on a one-time shot that brought the towel-waving crowd to its feet.

Rask followed that up by stopping Matthews on another 2-on-1 off a pass from Plekanec with Air Canada Centre ready to explode.

Plekanec then iced it into an empty net with 1:14 to play.

Both goalies were also on their game in the first as the clubs combined for 44 shot attempts, including 26 from Boston.

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Andersen made a nice stop on Nash less than two minutes in after a Leafs turnover before Rask, who allowed four goals on 13 shots before getting pulled in Game 5, fought off a Zaitsev point shot.

Marchand came close when his shot off another turnover struck the inside of Andersen’s pad and bounced out the other side.

Rask held the fort on the game’s first power play, and Andersen followed up with his second incredible stick save of the series when he swatted a Backes attempt from in tight with Nash lurking.

The Leafs fell behind the Bruins 3-1 the last time the clubs met in the playoffs back in 2013 before tying the series 3-3 with back-to-back 2-1 victories. Toronto then became the first team in NHL history to blow a three-goal lead in the third period of a Game 7 as the Bruins stormed back from a 4-1 deficit to set up a dramatic 5-4 overtime victory.

Coming into these playoffs, teams that take a 3-1 lead in a best-of-seven series hold an all-time record of 270-28 – good for a success rate of 90.6 per cent.

The Leafs have trailed 3-1 in a best-of-seven series 15 times, with their only victory coming in the 1942 Stanley Cup final when they stormed back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Detroit Red Wings.


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