Krejci, Bruins flatten Leafs in OT thriller in Game 4
Every other series in the NHL playoffs had at least one overtime game already so it was only right that Game 4 between the Bruins and Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre joined the fun. David Krejci (second career playoff hat trick) won it at 13:06 in OT on assists from Nathan Horton and Zdeno Chara (four assists) after Toronto captain Dion Phaneuf went for a big hit up ice but missed. Krejci waited out Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer (41 saves) before sliding it by him to give Boston the 4-3 overtime win.
For the second game in a row, Tuukka Rask made 45-plus saves in a Bruins victory. Boston took a commanding 3-1 lead in the first round series with a chance to close it out in Game 5 on Friday (7 p.m.) back at TD Garden.
Regulation was crazy enough as Toronto jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period then Boston scored three goals in a row in the second period before the Maple Leafs tied it at three. Joffrey Lupul finished a one-timer from Phil Kessel 2:35 into the contest and Cody Franson made it 2-0 with a shot that Rask didn’t see since Zdeno Chara was in his way.
Boston actually played well in the first period but didn’t see any immediate results. That changed in the second period as Patrice Bergeron notched a power-play goal 32 seconds into the frame. David Krejci tied it after another rebound from Reimer then he gave the B’s a 3-2 lead with a one-timer from Nathan Horton, a second power play goal for the Bruins (doubling their output from the first three games). Clark MacArthur tied it late in the second period after a blocked shot came right to him.
What they’ll be saying: In a first round leaguewide that has been awesome with so many great games, this might have been the best one in the NHL so far … or at least it’s on the short list. It had everything: great goals, comebacks, a hat trick, overtime, incredible saves, etc. Toronto’s win in Game 2 is all but forgotten now that the Bruins swept the pair of games at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs’ confidence has to be shattered after they blew a 2-0 lead at home then lost in the most difficult fashion possible. Krejci leads the NHL with 10 points (five goals, five assists) and he was brilliant in Game 4 along with Rask and Chara (four assists). The roles were reversed as Boston scored a pair of power-play goals (doubling their output in the first three games) and Toronto was 0-for-4 on the power play. The Maple Leafs dominated physically (71-49 hits) but they had nine more giveaways (33-24) and the Bruins won seven more faceoffs (41-34). This was a win where Boston’s big-game experience likely paid off since they never seemed to get rattled or lose focus. Air Canada Centre has provided a great atmosphere for Games 3 and 4, I expect the Garden to be electric on Friday as the B’s try to eliminate the Maple Leafs and move on the next round of the playoffs.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate