Toronto Maple Leafs

April 15, 2019 10:45 pm

Rick Zamperin: Big performances lead Maple Leafs over Bruins in Game 3

Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) celebrates his goal against the Boston Bruins with teammates during second period NHL playoff hockey action in Toronto, on Monday, April 15, 2019.


I must admit, I did not have a good feeling about the Toronto Maple Leafs’ chances of winning Monday night against the Boston Bruins.

But lo and behold, the Leafs scored the first goal of the game for the first time in the series and held on to beat Boston 3-2 in front of a boisterous crowd at Scotiabank Arena.

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With the way Game 2 went — a 4-1 Bruins victory — and news of Nazem Kadri being suspended for the remainder of the series coming less than an hour before puck drop, I anticipated the fallout from the previous contest weighing heavily on the minds of Toronto’s players.

READ MORE: Maple Leafs down Bruins 3-2 in Game 3

I also expected the referees to grant each team a few more power-play opportunities in Game 3 compared to the seven that were handed out during a much more physically intense game on Saturday, but that didn’t materialize either.

Each team had the man advantage three times and Toronto scored twice — including Auston Matthews’ first goal of the series — while Boston went 1-for-3.

READ MORE: Maple Leafs centre Nazem Kadri suspended for rest of first round

Just like in the series opener, the Leafs used their speed to create chances off the rush, and while their top line of John Tavares, Mitch Marner and Zach Hyman didn’t collect any points 5-on-5, they did keep Boston’s No. 1 line off the scoresheet.

Marner laid his body on the line and made a couple of big blocks in the final seconds to help preserve Toronto’s victory — likely securing an extra million dollars a season on his next contract.

Just as great was Frederik Andersen. He, in fact, has been exceptional in all three games of the series, stopping 108 of 115 shots so far for a sparkling .939 save percentage.

While the mood going into Game 4 in Toronto on Wednesday night will be positive, the Leafs can’t take their foot off the pedal because the battle-tested Bruins aren’t about to lie down.

If the Maple Leafs want to win this series, taking Game 4 and putting an immense amount of pressure on Boston is a must.

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