The Bruins never seem to make things easy on themselves, especially when it comes to the postseason. Remember, this is a team that won a Stanley Cup two years ago after winning three seven game series' (25 games in total that year). Then last year they were bounced in the first round after seven one-goal games against the Capitals. Friday, they had a chance to eliminate the Maple Leafs, but they choked, losing 2-1 at TD Garden. Toronto cut the quarterfinal series to 3-2 and Game 6 is back at Air Canada Centre on Sunday night (7:30 p.m., NESN).
“We were expecting them to come out hard, they did and we didn’t match it,” admitted Bruins center Patrice Bergeron. “We have to make sure we’re ready next game, chances were there but we didn’t control the puck in critical situations at the blueline.”
Two turnovers by the Bruins in their own end were fatal, directly leading to both of Toronto’s goals. Tyler Bozak made it 1-0 with a shorthanded goal at 11:27 of the second period after Andrew Ference couldn’t keep the puck in at the blue line. Clarke MacArthur gave the Leafs a 2-0 lead 1:58 into the third period after Nathan Horton coughed it up. A two-goal deficit and the prospect of another game finally woke up the Bruins as well as the crowd. Zdeno Chara got the B's on the board at 11:12 with a wrist shot from David Krejci and Dennis Seidenberg. The Bruins absolutely dominated in the third period (outshooting the Leafs 19-4) but they weren’t able to find the equalizer. Johnny Boychuk hit the crossbar and there were numerous other close calls for the B’s.
Few expected it to happen but Toronto goaltender James Reimer (43 saves) stole a playoff game for his team. Tuukka Rask (31 saves) was also solid and kept his team in the contest when they sleepwalked through the first period (outshot 19-8) but Boston’s lack of goal-scoring that was such an issue at the end of the regular season transferred over to Game 5. Boston had scored four goals in Game 1, five in Game 3 and four in Game 4 (all wins). This was their lowest output of the series, even worse than Game 2 (two goals). Boston even had a power play late the third period after a delay of game penalty on Toronto but it couldn’t convert despite sustained pressure in the Maple Leafs’ zone.
“That wasn’t close to what we needed,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “Toronto played a strong (first) 40 minutes and deserved to win. In the first period, we didn’t give Tuukka much help. We got away from our game, we need more accountability and differencemakers on Bergeron’s line (Seguin and Marchand). Hopefully it doesn’t take the score in a game to make our team desperate. We take the blame for our own undoing.”
The Bruins won Games 3 and 4 in Toronto so they’ll need to get another road win to avoid a Game 7 back at the Garden on Monday.
Follow Metro Boston Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter @RichSlate