Bruins seek to step on throats of Leafs in Game 4

Brad Marchand and Phil Kessel mixed it up in Monday night's Game 3 in Toronto. (Boston Globe)
Brad Marchand and Phil Kessel mixed it up in Monday night’s Game 3 in Toronto. (Boston Globe)

Canada views hockey as its national game, but the usually mild-mannered people up North tend to lose their minds (see: Montreal calling 911 two years ago after a Zdeno Chara hit or Vancouver’s riots after losing in the Stanley Cup Finals to Boston) when things don’t go their way. The Bruins won 5-2 in Game 3 Monday to take a 2-1 series lead and it’s now fair to wonder how much the pressure of playing hockey in a fish bowl like Canada has gotten to a team that hasn’t played in the playoffs in nine years?

This takes nothing away from the Bruins, who played like the playoff experienced team that they are Monday night. In particular, Boston’s forwards have been highly impressive. Milan Lucic (six assists), David Krejci (two goals, five assists) and Nathan Horton (three goals, one assist) have skated circles around Toronto’s trio of Tyler Bozak (zero goals, one assist), Joffrey Lupul (two goals) and Phil Kessel (two goals). It’s also no coincidence that with Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg reunited on the first defensive pairing, the B’s rolled to a three-goal win, just like they did in Game 1 (4-1 last Wednesday).

The main thing that the B’s have to avoid in Game 4 (Wednesday, 7 p.m., NESN) is having Toronto turn things into a special teams battle. Toronto has scored a power-play goal in each game (two in Game 3) and they are 4-of-12 for the series while Boston is 1-of-9, with its lone strike in Game 1. Those numbers don’t look quite as bad when you consider that Daniel Paille had a shorthanded goal in Game 3 that made it 4-1 late in the second period but the point remains that Boston needs to stay out of the penalty box.

Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate



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