The Bruins ruined the first playoff game in Toronto in nine years as they bounced back from a 4-2 loss in Game 2 at TD Garden and won Game 3 at Air Canada Centre Monday night, 5-2. Goaltender Tuukka Rask made a career-high 46 saves for Boston and five different players scored goals for the Bruins, who took a 2-1 series lead in the best-of-seven first round series. Game 4 is Wednesday (7 p.m., NESN) in Toronto and Game 5 is Friday (7 p.m., NESN) back in Boston.
The B’s took a 1-0 lead in the first period on Adam McQuaid’s first career playoff goal, a shot from the point that somehow found its way past Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer (33 saves). Truthfully, it should have been stopped but Boston will certainly take it. The Bruins really put it away with three goals in the second period. Rich Peverley converted a one-timer after Jaromir Jagr forced a turnover behind Toronto’s goal but the Leafs answered with a power-play goal by Jake Gardiner. Nathan Horton gave Boston a two-goal lead with a one-timer from Milan Lucic then Daniel Paille took the air out of the building with a shorthanded goal.
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Toronto didn’t pack it in during the third period, however, as Phil Kessel scored for the second game in a row - this time on a power play. Rask hung in there as the Leafs outshot the B’s 19-6 in the frame. David Krejci finally clinched it for the Black & Gold with an empty-netter. Boston’s top forward line of Nathan Horton (1 goal, 1 assist), Krejci (1 goal, 2 assists) and Lucic (3 assists) was outstanding once again, carrying the B’s to an important win ... with Rask’s help of course.
What they'll be saying:
This wasn’t a perfect road game by any means since they gave up a ton of shots on goal (48) and two power-play goals but the Bruins dictated this game from the start and never trailed. Their biggest advantage over the Maple Leafs is in goal, proven further by Rask’s great performance and the fact that Reimer gave up a soft goal to McQuaid from a mile away, not to mention the numerous rebounds he offered up.
Through the first three games, Boston’s top line of Lucic (6 assists), Krejci (2 goals, 5 assists) and Horton (3 goals, 1 assist) is playing better collectively than they have all season and Toronto doesn’t seem to have an answer for them. Another good sign for the B’s is that their third line, which had been scoreless in the first two games, looked much stronger in Game 3 and was rewarded with a goal by Rich Peverley from Jaromir Jagr that made it 2-0. The Bruins owned the faceoff circle (45-30) in Game 3 and made all the little winning plays that you need to do in the playoffs. The key for them is to be consistent which has been an issue the last few months. They were great in Game 1, average in Game 2 and very good in Game 3. Another win in Game 4 would be huge since it means they could close it out in five at the Garden on Friday. The sooner you can end a playoff series the better, no need to let inferior teams hang around for too long.
Follow Metro Bruins beat writer Richard Slate on Twitter: @RichSlate